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Pol decries East Setauket deck collapse, investigation continues

Police tape surrounds a deck that collapsed during

Police tape surrounds a deck that collapsed during a party Friday in East Setauket. Aug. 27, 2016 Credit: Ed Betz

A Brookhaven councilwoman is speaking out about rentals as the town’s investigation continued into what caused the collapse of a deck holding dozens of people during an East Setauket house party.

Authorities have said the house appeared to have been converted into a half-dozen apartments and that the group was celebrating Stony Brook University’s move-in day.

Brookhaven Town officials are expected to hold a news conference Tuesday morning regarding the home and deck collapse, officials said.

The 10-foot-high deck collapsed Friday night at a party attended by about 400 people, many believed to be university students. Two people were injured.

“This incident is unfortunate and a prime example of why it is so important that owners and occupants strictly comply with our town code,” Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright said in a Monday interview at Brookhaven Town Hall.

Cartright, who represents East Setauket, said for two years she has closely worked with the town, Stony Brook University and homeowners, and has proposed housing-code changes to address illegal rentals.

“Thankfully, there weren’t any deaths related to this,” she said. “We’re working to resolve the issues.”

The Stony Brook and East Setauket communities have long faced zoning and safety concerns as students scramble for housing close to the university, which doesn’t have enough campus housing for noncommuter students, requiring them to look elsewhere, officials say.

That can lead to illegal conversions of houses into several apartments and community tensions over traffic, parking and noise, officials have said.

Bruce Sander, president of Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners, said he drove by the home Monday.

“I think they’re lucky nobody got killed. There were kids under the deck,” Sander said. “It’s only a matter of time when somebody really gets hurt.”

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