Crackdown coming at Wading River Motel?

06/17/2011 8:36 AM |

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said he wants the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to discontinue using the Wading River Motel for emergency housing.

At the Wading River Motel on a recent Monday, women of varying ages and races can be seen sitting on lawn chairs and benches outside. They are talking on cell phones or soaking up the sun as children play in the grassy field in front of the drive-up rooms. Large bushes block out the hum of cars driving past on Route 25.

The Suffolk County Department of Social Services has been using the Wading River site to house some of its homeless population, in particular battered women and their children, since the motel was purchased by its current owner in January.

County officials say the site is needed because it provides a spot for homeless families from the Longwood and Riverhead school districts to stay local, so their children do not have to disrupt their studies.

But Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said the motel owners are violating town code by operating as an emergency shelter, and that the motel is now facing fines and other legal repercussions.

“This is supposed to be a transient hotel for travelers,” he said. “And these people are not travelers.”

Mr. Walter said he was alerted by Riverhead Town Police Chief David Hegermiller and residents about two weeks ago to an increase in police and fire calls to the motel in the past six months.

Town police were called to the motel 37 times between January 1 and June 14  of this year, while they were called there only seven times from June 1 until December 31, 2010, according to records.

“We will have some domestic violence come out of there because a substantial portion of the homeless population are domestic violence victims,” said county Department of Social Services Commissioner Greg Blass.

Representatives from the motel did not respond to requests for comment.

When asked what town officials plan to do to stop the motel from operating as an emergency shelter, Mr. Walter answered: “We are going to continue to enforce the code.”

When pressed, Mr. Walter pointed to an ongoing investigation and declined to offer additional details.

But Mr. Blass, who as of Monday had not spoken with the supervisor regarding the matter, said he disagrees with Mr. Walter’s stance that the motel is out of code.

“We make it very clear to the motel operators and to our staff at the shelters that when it comes to fire code, we [must be] in compliance with local zoning,” Mr. Blass said, adding that he has not heard complaints from leaders from other Suffolk towns.

Riverhead Town attorneys refused to opine to a reporter as to whether or not Riverhead’s town code allows for motels to operate as emergency shelter.
But the town’s senior code enforcement investigator Kevin Maccabee said the motel’s owners, Wading River Development LLC, was issued a summons for operating without a rental permit on May 25. He said that the motel’s previous owner, listed as Dave Enterprises, did have a rental permit, but that paperwork needed to be updated when the property changed hands.

“It’s a process where they would have to submit an application to the town or certify through an architect or engineer that [the motel] is complying with code,” he said of obtaining a new permit.

The motel owner faces a fine of between $250 to $1,000 or imprisonment of 15 days if convicted of the charge.

The county has been using motels as overflow from its homeless shelters since 2009, when the economy collapsed. Mr. Blass noted that before the economic downturn, the department had about 300 cases of families and 150 singles in need of shelter. Today, that number has risen to 400 families and 250 singles at any given time.

“The department is required by law to provide housing when people on an emergency basis becomes homeless,” Mr. Blass said. “It is imprudent for us to place families in the communities where they are from.”

The Wading River Motel is the only site in Riverhead Town where new families are being placed, Mr. Blass said.

Mr. Blass noted that the motel is in a spot relatively secluded from other homes and that the homeless are under the supervision of counselors until they are able to find permanent housing.

He insisted Suffolk will continue to use the site until the homeless population shrinks to a size that can be handled by the county’s permanent shelters.
“They are local people who have fallen on hard times,” Mr. Blass said. “Our obligation is to do for [the homeless] what they cannot do for themselves, which is the definition of public service.”

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14 Comment

  • Again why bother Homeless Abused Woman and Children …..Go after the Houses that are illegal…15 -20 people in a home sleeping all over the place..come on ..why throw our own out in the street…

  • Those women and children have enough problems let them get there lives back on track, than being hassled by the town,, There’s worst problems around the area..

  • It is the county that is putting them there, If The town of Riverhead elected officials were so concerned about illeagal housing they should open there own homes to the Homeless Battered woman and Children. If not they should just shut up.

  • Sorry but you people are a bit nutty.

    It seems like if Sean Walter and the town board proposed free gold bars for Riverhead residents that would be a bad idea too.

    Step away from your complete partisanship and smell the coffee the town board is enforcing code here and I for one think it’s long overdue.

    Also, Ms. Downs I don’t get your comment “our own”? What exactly does that mean?

    So far this week people think it’s fine for Farm Country to violate the law and don’t mind out of control, illegal shelters to exist.

    Seems like blind hatred for the Supervisor and town board has trumped judgement here.

  • Does anyone else have a problem with this newspaper pinpointing the exact location where victims of domestic violence are being sheltered? What are you thinking?

    You have conceivably made it easier for additional violence to be brought to these victims, again, what were you thinking, or perhaps the right questions is Were you thinking at all?.

  • Now that you have called me out…I know who you are..”our own” is exactly what it means.If you read the article….Mr Blass had said they were placed there because the children are in Longwood and Riverhead school districts..Hence “our own”!! Apparently they live here..DUH!You ask for posters to step back and smell the coffee..the Town is enforcing code….Yep that is wonderful….However we have a lot of over crowded homes with illegals.As I stated on WRIV I know a resident that has reported one of these homes months ago.In fact this resident has called numerous times because the Town has not acted on it.The Taxpayer was told that inspectors are very busy .I guess putting woman and children out on the street is more important.

  • its a crack motel…the women keep their men there too…unbeknownst to social services (eyes rolling)… the new york state preserve property next door is turning into a garbage pit thanks to these filth bags…i feel bad for the kids who have to live there because their fatazz moms cant keep their legs shut and wont get a job…why are they above working? soaking off the tax payer is how they live…its not that they’ve fallen on hard times…this is their way of life. As for the motel owner, how much are they receiving in social service section 8 benefits? $1,000 a month per room rented? I wouldnt be surprised…The landlord bought the place with the exact intent to make money and this is how he intended to do it…no philanthropy on his part.

  • You people are nutty. I’m way to close to this place not to notice the men who are allowed in…unbeknownst to social services (eyes rolling)…this is far from just abused mothers and children. What a cast of characters coming and going from this place. I feel sorry for the kids who live there because their fattazz mothers cant keep their legs shut for 2 seconds and pop out no daddy kids like pez dispensers. Why are these women above working? Because they have young children. And when the youngest gets too old for mama to continue benefits, she gets another no daddy to make another beneficiary. And the cycle continues. But thats all water under the bridge now…. the system is broken so that it cant be fixed. The preserve next door is littered beyond belief since these filth bags moved in…Someone will have a crack accident and the place will burn in no time…unfortunately, the pine barrens are next door…

    @are we there: its a smoke screen…Social services needs a reason for housing them there… the victims get beat up…thats for sure…and then they get a free cell phone from the county and immediately call their abuser for a hook up at the motel…you’re a little naive.
    lauriedowns: offer any of these women a job…. there are plenty of jobs that they are entirely over qualified for…or they are on disability for sheer stupidity… which makes you and I enablers…so who’s really stupid.

    God bless Mr. Walter and Mr. Macabee…and the mothers who made them…
    please get this trash hole outta here.


  • Thank you for the clarification.

    And no we do not know each other.

  • Mrs Lopez u Idiot i think he gets paid a whole lot more and if you have such a problem about it why dont you go complain to your local commisioner, instead of being some internet gangster, you might see men there because most of the families there are not victims of domestic violence, they are just families that HAVE FALLEN ON HARD TIMES!!!! And you should do your research before you start talking about a topic you nothing about. Section 8 has nothing to do with the Motel, so go talk to Dept. of Social Services maybe they can help you understand. And Karma is a bitch Mrs Lopez so watch what you say and do because you are only a paycheck away from these peoples situation yourself!!!!

    You must be some miserable woman that nobody wants to be around, not your husband or children that you actually have the time to go sneak around and spy on the less fortunate!!!!
    GET A LIFE!!!!

  • nine tenths of these weman are jut useing this agancy to screw thier husbands out of seeing thier kids period this farce has to stop so i will post all the adresses of these bull s@#$ shelters

  • This is not a Shelter it is emergency housing any way who are you to say these woman are not tell the truth?If you experienced something that makes you think they are all the same ,I think it’s time to take a second look…we all aren’t the same.As far as listing the womans shelters..everyone knows where they are in Riverhead.Posting address could only get someone hurt . Please be respectful.

  • Why is the town complaining to the motel when the county put the people there?

    This is a serious stupid issue of bureaucracy and in the long run Riverhead is basically punishing homeless battered women instead of consulting with the county.

    Great job.