Town targets four ‘overcrowded’ rental houses

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTOS | [Clockwise from Upper Left]
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTOS | The town is taking legal action against four Polish Town residences. (Clockwise from upper left) 303 Raynor Ave., 379 Sweezy Ave., 368 Sweezy Ave. and 331 Hamilton Ave.
Riverhead Town is poised to start legal action against four allegedly overcrowded Polish Town rental houses as part of a larger push to “clean up” residences that violate town code, town officials said.

“I will not turn this town over to the thugs and the absentee landlords,” Supervisor Sean Walter said of the measure. “To the absentee landlords, I say this, We’re coming for you.”

The Town Board authorized a “supreme court action” against Ricky Taylor for the properties at 331 Hamilton Ave., 303 Raynor Ave., 368 and 379 Sweezey [sic] Ave., according to a town board resolution approved Tuesday.

But Mr. Taylor said the town’s claims of overcrowded residences are untrue.

“That’s totally not true at all,” Mr. Taylor said in an interview Thursday. “That’s what the town tries to do, they scare people. I’m not trying to hide anything.”

Mr. Walter said the town will ask the court for an order of ejectment to remove the residents from the home until the code violations are addressed, adding the conditions at the houses came to light due to increased police patrols downtown that started the investigation.

He said the town had cracked down on illegal housing during former supervisor Phil Cardinale’s administration, but said “absentee landlords” had crept back into town slowly over the past few years.

“We’re going to crack down on them again, we’re going to clean them up again,” Mr. Walter said. “If you don’t play by the rules and you don’t respect our town and our residents we will use whatever legal methods at our disposal to garner your respect.”

Mr. Taylor said the house at 368 Sweezy Avenue has three bedrooms on each of its two floors, with six people living among them on the first floor and five people living on the second floor.

“How the hell can that be overcrowded?” he asked. “That’s the problem with the town. They think they know every effing thing but they don’t.”

Mr. Taylor, who said he’s never been subject to a code enforcement action before, said he maintains the upkeep of his houses and that they are “livable,” unlike other residences in town.

The landlord added he has already spoken to his attorney and plans to file a lawsuit against the town.

“I’m not laying down for nobody,” Mr. Taylor said.

Residents who lived at the properties declined to comment Wednesday, but the owner of an auto repair shop next to one of the houses said she was surprised to hear of the town’s legal plans.

Karen Waski, who owns Louie’s Auto on Sweezy Avenue, said she’s never had problems with her  neighbors.

Ms. Waski said she occasionally hears a radio coming from the house, or sees people outside playing soccer, but said the residents there keep to themselves and don’t park on her property.

“It’s like every other household,” she said.

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