Today’s news:

Horror House blues

Residents of one Morris Park block continue to be tormented by the constant stream of occupants and unsafe and sanitary conditions of a neighboring home.

On May 15, 2007, the owner of 1706 Barnes Avenue, Ana Rodriguez, was issued a violation for ‘residence altered for occupancy by more than legally approved number.’ Councilman James Vacca stepped in to expedite the year-long hearing, beginning in July of 2007 and not resolved until August of 2008, when a fine of $ 3,050 was finally issued for the violation.

The alteration included the addition of a cellar apartment, bringing the total number of people residing in the 1-family home to 15.

Though the amount of occupants has been reduced, it is now believed to be occupied by a family of seven, though residents question whether they are related.

“People move in and out of that house so much you need a scorecard to keep track,” said local resident and Community Board 11 member, Joe Bombace.

The Environmental Control Board (ECB) issued two more violations to the 20 by 35 foot home on September 18. One violation for ‘work without a permit,’ referring to a wooden staircase constructed in the rear of the house.

The other violation once again for ‘residency altered for occupancy as a dwelling for more than the legally approved number of families.’ According to sources this means the conversion of the living room and dining room areas into single room occupancies, with all occupants sharing the kitchen and the one bathroom.

The two violations were both scheduled for a hearing on November 7, but the property owner failed to show and the fines have escalated to $ 6,500. In total, the owner is now accountable for $ 9,550 in fines for violations and misuse of the property.

“Here is a situation where the Department of Buildings finally found evidence of what they were breaking the law and finally documented the altered occupancy,” said John Fratta, district manager of Community Board 11, “and they are not paying the fines. ECB will keep adding penalties as long as the condition exists.”

For residents of the block this seems to small a penalty for the quality of life being destroyed by the conditions.

“These tenants don’t shovel the snow, they don’t sweep the sidewalk, they don’t cut the grass,” said Bombace. “I want a another inspection and I want this house up to code. This house of horrors is becoming more and more of a nightmare.”

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group