FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 25, 2011
Contact: Ryan Horn
Open Cesspool Brings Search Warrant, Charges
Overcrowding, Change of Use, Illegal Conversion, Infestation
The Southampton Town Investigations and Enforcement Unit, in cooperation with local police, executed a search warrant on a Flanders home this morning.
After beginning an investigation earlier this week, officials found an open cesspool at 108 Bell Avenue and which allegedly posed a health hazard to the area. “It appeared that material was being pumped from one portion of the system to the other,” reported Chief Town Investigator David Betts. While that issue was addressed, he said it became apparent there were other issues at the property, including the presence of various litter and debris, as well as “obvious property maintenance concerns.”
The house, which town records show is a three-bedroom, single family home, appeared to have been converted to multi-family use with an apartment constructed in the 960 square foot basement. Despite having nine occupants and being legally “overcrowded,” the house had no smoke or carbon monoxide detectors. The Southampton Town Code requires ten of the former. Inspectors also found combustible material near the furnace, blocked emergency exits, and an infestation throughout the house. In addition to the illegal conversion to a two-family use, electrical work had also been completed without the proper permits, nor had the required rental permit been issued.
“All around it’s just completely unacceptable,” said Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, a Town Board Liaison to Code Enforcement. “Not only were the home’s occupants in danger, but the groundwater purity, safety, and well-being of the neighbors could’ve also been threatened by the unsanitary conditions resulting from an open cesspool.”
Overall, homeowner Thomas Madonia of Spring Hill, Florida will be charged with 24 code violations as a result of the day’s efforts. They will be adjudicated in Southampton Town Justice Court.
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