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Engineer drafts plan to save Kings Park homes

Smithtown Town is moving to raze two vacant

Smithtown Town is moving to raze two vacant houses at 77 and 81 W. Main St. in Kings Park. The demolition has been approved, but the town board may have to reconsider the resolution because it misidentifies the owner of the adjoining properties. Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz, 2012

The owner of a pair of incomplete Kings Park houses appears to have cleared another hurdle in his attempt to stave off demolition of the structures.

Smithtown Town officials said an engineer hired by Jeffrey K. Brown has submitted plans to repair and complete construction of the two-story, single-family homes on West Main Street. Brown had until Thursday to submit the plans.

The town board had threatened to raze the houses if Brown failed to craft adequate plans for salvaging the homes. They have been dormant -- and the focus of increasing complaints by neighbors -- since construction ceased about a decade ago.

"I'm hearing good things [from town officials] and keeping up my end of the bargain," Brown said Wednesday. "Maybe we can start doing business here."

A Suffolk referee awarded Brown ownership of the houses in December, after Brown had sued the previous owner, Frederic Powell. Brown alleged that Powell -- now serving a 4-year federal prison sentence for unrelated fraud and conspiracy -- had defrauded Brown's family.

Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said he had no plans to consider the fate of the houses at Thursday's town board meeting. In January the board was set to authorize demolition, before Brown pleaded for time to repair the houses.

Town building director John Bongino said Brown's engineer filed plans several days ago that outline porch and window fixes, siding removal and inspection of interior girders and supports. "They've been sticking to the deadline," Bongino said.

In a memo to the town board, Bongino said "minor changes need to be made" to Brown's plans, but he did not specify them, Vecchio said. He said the memo indicated the revisions were expected within a week.

Brown said the revised plan would be done Wednesday or Thursday.

Kings Park civic activists have complained that the homes -- known as the "Hightower houses" after the contractor who started building them -- are unsafe and attract vandals. Former Kings Park Chamber of Commerce president Charles Gardner said Wednesday the structures still should be torn down.

"I just don't believe that, right down to the foundations of the buildings, that they can be remediated," Gardner said. "I don't think it's fair to any future potential purchasers to buy something that might not be good from the foundation up."

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