2013-02-06 / Features

Avella, Civic, Residents Protest Abandoned Homes

State Senator Tony Avella and the Auburndale Improvement Association were joined by area residents at a January 31 rally. State Senator Tony Avella and the Auburndale Improvement Association were joined by area residents at a January 31 rally. State Senator Tony Avella and the Auburndale Improvement Association were joined by area residents at a January 31 rally condemning the deplorable conditions of four attached houses in Auburndale that have been abandoned by the property owner for years.

Members of the civic association and neighbors have been contacting Avella regarding this property since before he took office in 2011. According to residents, these properties have been abandoned for more than seven years and continue to be an eyesore and health hazard for the community. After visiting the site, Avella found the buildings to be in an extremely hazardous condition, with garages and property below grade, missing garage doors, unlocked doors to individual units, broken or missing windows, and litter strewn throughout the site.

Avella has contacted several city agencies, including the Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene, Sanitation, and Buildings regarding these hazardous conditions. While these agencies have acknowledged these conditions and issued violations, the conditions continue unabated. According to the city Department of Buildings, all four properties have a current unsafe building violation and have amassed numerous violations since 2007 for their failure to comply with building and construction codes. The property owner, Parsons Realty LLC, defaulted on 33 violations, resulting in thousands of dollars in unpaid fines. Unfortunately, the numerous violations have yet to compel the property owner to take corrective measures.

Avella has set up a task force, in conjunction with local civic associations, to address the ever increasing number of chronically vacant abandoned properties and construction sites throughout Queens.

“This is clearly one of the worst abandoned properties in all of Queens,” stated Avella. “It has been an eyesore in this Auburndale community for seven years now and these conditions are simply unacceptable, especially for those residents who live right next to these properties. A dilapidated lot like this creates a financial disaster for neighbors, who gradually see their property values decrease. Neighbors of these abandoned properties also suffer from serious health and safety hazards created by the owner’s lack of maintenance. The deteriorating condition of these properties must be addressed immediately.”

Henry Euler, first vice president of the Auburndale Improvement Association, stated, “Our elected officials and Community Board 11 have been on top of the unacceptable situation at this site and the neighbors and the community at large appreciates those efforts. Unfortunately, the problems have not been resolved to the community’s satisfaction and benefit. Because there is no reasonable way for the owners of the site to obtain certificates of occupancy for the four homes, and the homes have remained vacant and unsalable for over seven years, the Department of Buildings should condemn these structures. The structures should be torn down and new legal structures should be constructed if the owner wishes to build again. All fines must be paid. All garbage must be removed from the site immediately and kept off in the future. Weeds must be trimmed, and the front sidewalk should be repaired. The owners must take responsibility for their property.”

Avella continued, “The civics are compiling lists of properties in their communities that need to be addressed. At the same time I am working on possible legislation that would amend and strengthen the city’s ability to seize abandoned sites, like this, where the owner refuses to pay property taxes and has long, outstanding fines and violations. These properties are blights in our communities and the city needs to take action to protect its taxpaying homeowners. It is readily apparent in this situation that the city must demolish these houses.”

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