A state appeals court heard arguments last week in the case of a Mount Sinai company convicted of providing illegal apartments at a Stony Brook boardinghouse occupied by more than a dozen college students.
North Shore Designs last year was found guilty by Sixth District Court Judge David A. Morris of committing 15 Brookhaven Town building code violations, including illegally creating apartments, making building alterations without permits, and safety and sanitary code violations at a house the company owns at 150 Christian Ave.
Town officials said the home was allowed to have six bedrooms, but North Shore Designs authorized illegal alterations to create 10 additional bedrooms.
The firm, which has appealed the convictions, was acquitted of 29 counts, including 24 public safety violations.
Many Stony Brook residents have complained the Christian Avenue house, and other boardinghouses in the community, have disrupted their lives with excessive noise and traffic.
Town attorneys and lawyers for North Shore Designs squared off Thursday before the Second Appellate Division court in Brooklyn. Justices did not immediately issue a decision.
Raymond Negron of Mount Sinai, representing North Shore Designs, said he argued that town officials improperly charged his client and did not prove their case. Negron said the house's tenants created the illegal bedrooms.
"They didn't prove that the defendant did any of the violations," Negron said in an interview. "You can't be vicariously responsible for another person's actions."
Brookhaven Assistant Town Attorney Kristin Moro countered that town laws require landlords to ensure homes they own are safe for occupants.
"Ultimately, the landlord is responsible for everything on the property," Deputy Town Attorney David Moran said in an interview.
Moran said North Shore Designs has failed to pay $28,000 in fines. Negron said he could not comment on why the fines were not paid.
North Shore Designs' conviction was part of a Brookhaven crackdown on dozens of allegedly illegal boardinghouses in the Stony Brook area.
Bruce Sander, co-founder of Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners, said Stony Brook University officials have cooperated with residents to address problems at off-campus student homes.
"It's a cat-and-mouse game that, hopefully, with the university's help and the town's help, we can fix it," Sander said.