Reports: Fire-damaged home in Greenport not a hazard

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Greenport residents listened with concern Monday to a discussion on two engineers' reports on a fire-damaged home in Greenport.

While Greenport Village appears poised to continue pushing to condemn and demolish a fire-damaged multi-family building, its owners, the North Fork Housing Alliance, are saying not so fast.

Reports from two engineers — John Condon, hired by the village, and Bob O’Brien, hired by the NFHA — have concluded that the structure at 620 Second St., heavily damaged in an August 2008 fire, is not a hazard and isn’t in danger of falling down, according to alliance executive director Tanya Palmore.

The village hasn’t yet released the reports, which were to be filed by Friday, Aug. 12, despite building inspector Eileen Wingate saying Tuesday that they’re public records.

Despite the findings, Trustee David Murray, who accompanied the engineers and village and alliance officials on a recent inspection, said Monday night, “Everything I saw should not change what we see doing.”

After a Monday afternoon meeting between Greenport officials and the NFHA, village administrator David Abatelli said the village building department would be dealing with “clearing some of the violations.”

Ms. Palmore concurred and promised to take steps to improve the building in advance of a renovation, which she said has been on hold while the NFHA awaits the release of state funding. She also said village building department delays have prevented the work from proceeding.

Ms. Palmore, who had said work would begin in July and more recently predicted September, now says she can’t say when construction might commence.

Village attorney Joseph Prokop said the village has established a number of ways in which the structure is a nuisance.

“There’s a very short time line for [the NFHA] to be able to make corrections to the property,” Mr. Prokop said.

Meanwhile, Second Street neighbors who oppose the reconstruction have hired attorney Gail Wickham to fight their battle. They maintain that the structure is both dangerous and an eyesore. An inspection by an animal control officer revealed no signs of rats or raccoons said to have taken up residence there.

The neighbors argue that village law prevents the building from housing more than two families.

The housing alliance wants to restore the three units.

Village law also says a non-conforming building damaged by fire or other causes “to the extent of more than 50 percent at its fair value, shall not be repaired or rebuilt unless the use … is changed to conforming.”

“We have followed the advice of our attorney and done our due diligence,” said neighbor Bunny Ferrer.

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