Investigators: Flanders man using residential property for three businesses

08/05/2011 9:28 AM |

A Flanders property owner who in March and July was slapped with summonses for running a business out of a residential property was cited again last Thursday, this time for an illegal apartment and other building code violations on the same property, Southampton Town officials said.

Officials also said the property owner, Frank Fisher, 32, of Flanders, owes $5,710 in unpaid taxes on the land.

Mr. Fisher did not return phone messages seeking comment for this story.

David Betts, chief investigator for Southampton Town’s code enforcement department, said the earlier two raids found three businesses operating out at the one-acre 52 Priscilla Avenue lot; Go Green Sanitation — which earlier this year ran into legal trouble in Southold Town over recycling issues — Fisher Landscaping and a masonry business.

“There were garbage trucks parked over night, and a few hundred garbage containers from the business were stored there,” Mr. Betts said of the July 28 raid. “The property is zoned residential and he’s using it commercially. That’s illegal.”

Masonry supplies were also being stored on the property, Mr. Betts said. Mr. Fisher, who lives at a different address at 57 Priscilla Avenue, was issued similar charges for commercial use of the residential property on March 11.

“The investigation was in response to neighborhood complaints,” Mr. Betts said. “We had issued violations in March, and we did another inspection and found he was still in violation.”

Mr. Betts said Mr. Fisher did clean up some of the property since March, when several large roll-off containers were stored there. Those containers were removed but the property was still being used commercially to store equipment from the three businesses, he said.

On Thursday morning, code enforcement went back to 52 Priscilla Avenue with a search warrant — where they were able to search inside the house — and found that the basement had been illegally converted into a separate apartment with three beds, a kitchen and a bathroom, according to town officials.

There were no smoke or carbon monoxide detectors in the basement and the ceiling height was 6 feet, 9 inches, both violations of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, officials said.

In addition, officials said, numerous alterations had been made to the building without a building permit or rental permit. The allegedly illegal alterations included moving the heating plant, changing plumbing and electrical wiring, and cutting into the foundation to create an emergency escape window.

Mr. Betts said the only escape window was surrounded by a four-foot-high chain link fence, which Mr. Betts said would make escape difficult in an emergency.
In the upstairs portion of the house, there were three legal bedrooms, but one of them was overcrowded and there were no smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors and no rental permit, officials said.

The rooms were occupied by two small children, their parents and one unrelated adult female, Mr. Betts said.

tgannon@timesreview.com