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Homeowner had people living in illegal spaces, unregistered RV, Riverhead officials say

Riverhead Town officials recently issued 30 code violations

Riverhead Town officials recently issued 30 code violations against a Riverhead homeowner. Credit: Randee Daddona

Riverhead officials recently issued 30 code violations against a Riverhead homeowner after enforcement personnel found people living in illegally converted living spaces and an unregistered RV vehicle on the property, town officials said.

Town code enforcement officers executed a search warrant on Friday at a home on 554 Raymore Ave., which property records list and town officials say is owned by Patricia Sapienza-Brown, of Jamesport.

The home was searched after neighbors complained to the town about possible overcrowding and use of the home’s structure “in an unlawful manner,” town attorney Robert Kozakiewicz said Friday. The complaints started in late October 2019, with a detailed complaint made on Jan. 20, Kozakiewicz added.

Investigators found five people were living on the property in an unregistered bounder recreation vehicle. Officials said the RV had electricity, water and wastewater discharge connected for service as an independent and distinct dwelling unit. Code enforcement officials also found that three people were living in a detached garage that was illegally converted to living space without permits and/or approvals from the Riverhead Building Department. The garage had a living room area, two bedrooms, a bathroom and a makeshift kitchen area.

The violations issued — in accordance with Riverhead's code and zoning laws, New York State's building and fire code, and the state's property maintenance code — include failure to obtain building permits, certificates of occupancy and rental permits, as well as non-permitted uses, litter, garbage, unlawful structures and zoning use violations, Kozakiewicz said.

Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said in a statement that the town's legal staff intended to pursue "any and all action necessary" to immediately ban the use of the RV and detached garage as living areas and rectify the violations.

“These violations not only represent a risk to the safety and welfare of the residents of the subject property but to the residents of the surrounding area, as well,” Aguiar said.

Sapienza-Brown said Friday her attorney had advised her not to comment. She did say, however, that the RV unit was registered and insured.

"It's really a sad story. Everybody who knows me personally knows the situation," Sapienza-Brown said.

State law requires Sapienza-Brown to fix state code violations within 30 days, Kozakiewicz said. On whether the people found on the property were still living there, Kozakiewicz said only that the property had been posted and served notice of the violations.

“At this time, it depends on the ability of the owner to remove the individuals. Should circumstances prevent that from occurring, the town of Riverhead will consider further action, including action in the state Supreme Court,” Kozakiewicz said.

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