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Huntington Town stiffens housing violation penalties

The Town of Huntington continued its crackdown on property owners who establish or maintain substandard and illegal apartments by imposing stiffer penalties on the landlords if they are caught.

The Huntington town board unanimously voted to amend its town code to increase fines and penalties for landlords guilty of violating building and zoning codes at its meeting last week.

The minimum fines per day have increased for such violations as illegal apartments, altered or renovated rooms done without a permit and structures without certificates of occupancy - from $500 to $1,000 for a first offense, from $1,000 to $2,000 for a second offense, and from $1,500 to $4,000 for a third offense. The violations are misdemeanors and could include jail time of up to nine months.

"These stepped-up code enforcement measures will help assure that all rental properties are documented and that they are safe and up to code," said board member Mark Cuthbertson, co-sponsor of the resolutions with Supervisor Frank Petrone.

The minimum fine for a violation of housing code that results in an injury is now $3,000, up from $1,500. Also, the town attorney is authorized to seek civil penalties from violators of $500 per day, up from $250.

The town board also recently strengthened town code to require landlords of Section 8 housing to register with the town and submit to inspections.Earlier this month, town code enforcement officers found eight dwelling units at two single-family homes at 25 and 39 Railroad St. in Huntington Station. Alleged violations included detached garages that had been converted into apartments, illegally finished basements used for sleeping, and lack of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

The owner of the properties, Leonard Blagman, did not return phone calls. He is due in court June 16 to answer 11 summonses.

The board also voted to delay a rezoning decision until September on creating a 530-unit housing development in Huntington Station. Town officials said the board needs more time to consider the developer's responses to concerns raised by residents about the project, Avalon Bay Huntington Station, at a March 9 public hearing.

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