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Huntington search warrant revision plan targets illegal apartments
A policy change proposed for Huntington Town would target suspected illegal apartment operators by giving residents less notice when the town wants to get a search warrant for their property.
Town code currently says officials can apply for a search warrant to do an inspection of a property when the “owner refuses, or fails, after due notice by certified mail” to allow the inspection and there is reasonable cause to believe that there has been a violation.
The proposed amendment aims to remove the certified mail requirement. Town attorney Cindy Elan-Mangano said at the August town board meeting that 99 percent of the town’s search warrants involve suspected illegal apartments.
Elan-Mangano said there have been “too many incidences” where once the property owner gets the notice, he or she then removes the tenants, removes/fixes the violations, and allows the inspection. But, once the check is done, they go back to operating illegal apartments, she said.
Illegal apartments can be “dangerous, overcrowded and unsanitary,” she said.
“The town has an interest in making sure our residents live in safe and sanitary conditions,” Elan-Mangano said.
The town board held a public hearing on the proposal at its August meeting. One woman spoke, questioning the constitutionality of the proposal.