Hempstead complex owner gets refund for site of fire

Firefighters fight the blaze which started at 6:20 Firefighters fight the blaze which started at 6:20 a.m. on the third floor of 9-17 St. Pauls Road North in Hempstead. (Feb. 9, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

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The Village of Hempstead will refund $150,000 in property tax payments to the owner of the site of a fatal fire in February that is still under investigation by the Nassau County district attorney's office.

The village board, in a 5-0 vote Tuesday, approved a settlement of tax certiorari matter with Dorchester LLC for the 78-apartment complex at 9-17 St. Pauls Rd. N. in Hempstead Village. The settlement, reached after litigation against the village in State Supreme Court in Nassau County, calls for five installments of $30,000, for the fiscal tax years 2007-08 through 2013-14. The refunds are payable within 90, 150, 210, 270 and 330 days.

"He filed a grievance and we have to give it to him," Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr. said.

The fire at 17 St. Pauls Rd. N. claimed the life of Guadalupe Ramirez, 37, and her son, Fernando, 8. Three survivors filed a lawsuit in March against the building's owners, Dorchester LLC and Monte Carlo LLC and landlord Bradford Mott, seeking compensation for spinal injuries allegedly suffered as they tried to escape the blaze in the third-floor apartment where they lived and the fire was started by a candle.

"Dorchester should spend less time worrying about fighting to lower its tax exposure and a little more time on providing safe buildings for its tenants to live in," plaintiffs' attorney Marc S. Albert of Astoria said.

The fire was classified as accidental by the Nassau fire marshal's office, which ordered Dorchester to install carbon monoxide detectors in all apartments, conduct an electrical inspection of the building complex, and inspect and repair fire escapes.

Officials with Dorchester, based in Oyster Bay, did not respond to requests for comment.

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