MASSENA — Massena village trustees have authorized their code enforcement officer to take action on an unsafe condition after unsuccessful attempts to have the building owner address the situation.
Code Enforcement Officer Walter Bean told trustees on Tuesday that a second story front porch roof assembly at 405-407 South Main St. was visibly in danger of collapsing and had become a safety hazard to existing tenants, as well as the general public.
“It’s not the entire building, but it’s the second story roof assembly. It’s in danger of collapsing. The owner of this property, John Sheehan, is aware of the issue and has refused to do or have any repairs done,” Mr. Bean said.
He cited the village code that addresses emergency situations for unsafe buildings.
“Where it reasonably appears that there is present a clear and imminent danger to the life, safety or health of any person or property unless an unsafe building is immediately repaired or secured or demolished, the village board may, by resolution, authorize the code enforcement officer to immediately cause the repair or demolition of such unsafe building,” Mr. Bean said.
The cost of the repair or demolition would be assessed to the land owner.
He said the Code Enforcement Office has been working on the issue since June 2018.
“We’ve had official letter notifications and contact with the owner, as well as the owner had come into the fire department and I spoke to him face-to-face. He was made aware of the issues and understands them. I was flat out told that he doesn’t have the money to do the repairs, so he’s not going to do it,” Mr. Bean said.
However, he said, Mr. Sheehan talked with him a few weeks later.
“He wanted us to wait and see if we may be able to work something out. Then he told me the property’s going to foreclosure for county taxes. That didn’t happen this year. Supposedly it was supposed to be next year. That’s an unknown,” he said.
Because of the immediate danger to the occupants and public, Mr. Bean requested that the village board take action to remove the roof assembly.
Trustee Christine Winston wondered if the occupants were aware of the work that would be done, but Mr. Bean said he had not contacted them.
“The owner is aware of it,” he said.
“Have we ever performed emergency work like this on a building that’s occupied? I’m just wondering if we need to check with legal counsel in terms of certain procedures or precautions that need to be followed. If we have to proceed, I want to make sure. I would request that we check with legal counsel not only in terms to make sure we proceed appropriately, but also make sure that we are aggressively pursuing every option that we have afterward with the cost,” Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire said.
Although the cost would be charged to the land owner, there was a concern that it wouldn’t be paid.
“The unfortunate thing is when that’s not paid, the county does not make us whole. Understandably so,” Mr. LeBire said, suggesting they explore any avenue possible to recover the cost if the owner walked away.
Ms. Winston also shared her concerns about the occupants.
“If it’s deemed unsafe, will the residents be asked to leave?” she wondered.
“It’s not necessarily the occupancy other than the porch section, but they have to be notified,” Mr. Bean said. “I guess the unclear part is we’re not necessarily deeming the entire structure unsafe.”