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Jan 11, 2011 6:06 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Springs Residents Sound Off About Illegal Multi-Family Housing

Jan 11, 2011 6:06 PM

Concern over illegal multifamily houses in Springs boiled over at an East Hampton Town Board meeting last Thursday when several residents took the podium to complain about what they described as a worsening crisis in their hamlet.

“The school is the hub of our community and it’s bursting at the seams,” said Kathy McCormack, referring to the Springs School. “Our school taxes, although they’ve always been much higher than the other hamlets, have reached a point that begs for some help.”

David Buda, another Springs resident, framed the issue in terms of “an erosion emergency that the town is ignoring.”

“What am I talking about?” Mr. Buda asked the board. “I’m not talking about the erosion caused by the Christmas storm affecting Montauk and parts of Lazy Point. I’m talking about the erosion of the quality of life, the erosion of property values the erosion of budgets in the area of the Springs.”

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson told attendees that Councilwoman Theresa Quigley is spearheading a reworking of the town’s apartment legislation. While he did not offer specifics, he indicated that it would take into account the fate of people who could be evicted from illegal multifamily homes. He also said he was interested in taking an inventory of the people living in such conditions in town.

“I want to know every illegal apartment and I want to know if they’re in basements and I want to know if they’re in closets and I want to know what we do at the bottom line, at the end of the day as well,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “Because I want everybody in the room to be aware, if you say ‘Okay kick those people out of that house, it’s illegal,’ I want to know where those people are going. I’m sorry.”

Ms. Quigley, who was absent from the meeting because she was ill, did not return calls seeking information about the draft legislation on Monday. But during a work session meeting on January 4, Debra Foster, a former councilwoman, sparred with Ms. Quigley over the proposal. Ms. Foster said it is designed to have the illegal multifamily houses “reorganized, brought up to code and made to pay taxes,” and contended that it would allow 2,600 people to be added to the total buildout potential of the town.

At the meeting, Ms. Quigley contested that claim, and defended her efforts, calling the draft legislation a “work in progress.”

“While I appreciate that you’re entitled to your own opinions, Deb, you’re really not entitled to your own facts,” Ms. Quigley said. “And I would appreciate it if you would stick to actual facts about this proposal, and not your speculations.”

Ms. Foster returned to the Town Board two days later to invite members of the board to a forum on housing in the town, which she said will be scheduled for sometime in the next six weeks.

The Springs residents who went before the Town Board that day, though, largely urged the town to enforce its existing code, rather than craft a new one.

“It is not pleasant when we have to pay high taxes while knowing that many of these students that we are paying for are living in homes with many families and creating a playing field that is not level,” Ms. McCormack said. “It is also not pleasant that we see little being done about it.”

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I have looked into my crystal ball and seen the future. It will be the same as the past. All the illegal accessory apartments ever created on the East End will remain in place despite community objections.

I once had a neighbor (not a close one, thank god) who applied for a building permit to construct a storage space above her garage. Since it required a variance, she sought approval from her next door neighbor, representing the space as being negligible in height. When constructed, ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 12, 11 11:08 AM
"I can only assume that it is difficult to revoke a CO once it has been granted." ...By highhatsize (613) on Jan 12, 11 11:08 AM

If you had the nuggets you'd take the matter to the Zoning Commission and challenge the C of O

Like I said if you got the nuggets to do it. You may have a high hat size, heck anyone can have a big head especially if you bang it against the wall repetitivly. question is, do you got the size down below where it really counts????

By Bilge Water (131), Southampton on Jan 12, 11 5:13 PM
Were she my immediate neighbor, I would have. However, if the neighbor-in-the-shade chose not to complain, I wasn't going to. The property has long since changed hands.

Finally, and, I hope, for the last time, "highhatSIZE" is a joke. Most people get it.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 12, 11 7:03 PM
No need to revoke the CO. It sounds like the Bldg. Dept. didn't allow for cooking areas or living spaces in the addiiton which is why they required the appliances to be removed. The CO certainly was for "storage space" or would be spelled out as "2nd floor addition - no cooking or sleeping". If they had a renter move in there it would be illegal even if they have a CO for the "space".

Also, a rental permit is required. Public Safety (Code Enforcement) can and will stake out a property ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 13, 11 10:37 AM
This time may be different. People are very angry, as they have every right to be.
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Jan 12, 11 11:23 AM
Anger is a polite word. I hope those in elected office recognize what hangs in the balance.
By shev (1), EH on Jan 12, 11 12:14 PM
I personally have had it with this. If they don't fix the problem, they will not get my vote next time around.
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Jan 12, 11 12:30 PM
But according to "montaukman" what you have now is called "LEADERSHIP".

Mobilize your forces and deal with it accordingly. Stop the madness
By Bilge Water (131), Southampton on Jan 12, 11 9:34 PM
The use of the structure noted by Hatsize is called a change of use. Simply this owner can be cited for the change of use and brought to court. Pretty simple and in most cases the court will, as part of the pleae bargin will require the owner to dismantle the apartment and discontinue the use. A conditional discharge can also be issued so that if the owner goes back to teh illegal use they can be charged again with teh original count.
By HamptonAnswer (7), Easthampton on Jan 12, 11 1:29 PM
sorry I just noticed a typo "charged again with the original count"
By HamptonAnswer (7), Easthampton on Jan 12, 11 1:30 PM
The use of the structure noted by Hatsize is called a change of use. Simply this owner can be cited for the change of use and brought to court. Pretty simple and in most cases the court will, as part of the pleae bargin will require the owner to dismantle the apartment and discontinue the use. A conditional discharge can also be issued so that if the owner goes back to teh illegal use they can be charged again with the original count.
By HamptonAnswer (7), Easthampton on Jan 12, 11 1:35 PM
The problem is that neighbors of these illegal apratments must bring their complaints and keep bringing their complaints to town hall and take pictures if necessary to prove their cases. Eventually someone has to listen.
By housewife (79), east hampton on Jan 12, 11 2:48 PM
1 member liked this comment
Well this is the age old problem once you make a complaint you need to follow up and ask if your complaint has been investigated and what the outcome. Or ask for a follow up call after they have looked at it. You may get the run around but eventually they will have to answer. If there are safety issues at a location that have been reported and soemthing happens........well you get the idea.
By HamptonAnswer (7), Easthampton on Jan 12, 11 4:02 PM
Illegal accessory apartments are a serious issue in Springs, but the other one is all of the unrelated renters living in single family houses.
Last year I accompanied a friend from NYC with his broker on a weekend tour of homes for sale - all in Springs. Out of the dozen or so homes viewed, all single family without accessory apartments, fully half of them were packed with renters (all apparently "work-force" types), including in basements and attics. I'm talking 6, 7, 8+ adults. The tell-tale ...more
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Jan 12, 11 5:41 PM
All east end towns have the same issue
By HamptonAnswer (7), Easthampton on Jan 12, 11 7:20 PM
2 members liked this comment
In terms of East Hampton town, Springs has by far the most violations.
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Jan 12, 11 7:24 PM
You are absolutely right Zaz. Good point. I believe there is a town board meeting on Thursdy the 20th. I will make sure to bring that up. This crap has got to stop now.
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Jan 12, 11 7:21 PM
A little disingenuous of Kathy McCormack( from Springs) after sitting in the Supervisors office with McGintee( from Springs) for six years. During that six years Ms. Foster(from Springs) was there for four years as was Mr. Loewen( from Springs). The question is did these problems exist during the years they were running the Town or did they only become a problem since this new board was elected, and if they existed at that time why weren't they dealt with then?
By montaukman (98), easthampton on Jan 13, 11 4:18 PM
Good points Montaukman. I'll go one step further -- McCormack used to work at Springs School, Deb Foster used to work at Springs School, McGintee'swife worked at Springs School. No problem with growing student population then, when more students helped justify more jobs and higher pay. The current problem did not happen over night.
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on Jan 13, 11 5:16 PM
I think if you look back to the reports dating to the McGintee days, there were fairly regular search warrants conducted on overcrowded houses and fines in excess of 10k were reported to have been imposed on the landlords and owners of these houses. Maybe its possible that McCormack just doesn't know why the current board has choosen to do nothing about the situation (and make up bogus claims about potential lawsuits- which never materialized when there was enforcement) when there is a legal path ...more
By soggy pants (6), montauk on Jan 14, 11 10:20 AM
Just to clarify I'm really not trying to play the blame game. This can has been kicked down the road for dacades and is not going to be solved quickly. Calmer heads and possibly a Board created task force with specific goals laid out could be a good starting place.
By montaukman (98), easthampton on Jan 13, 11 6:23 PM
I get what Montaukman is saying. You have all these people that say just throw code enforcers after the problem and it will just go away. Well, it won't, but why not have a group of Springs residents come up with a plan to deal with the overcrowding, including writing some laws they think will work, laying out how to enforce their laws, and costing out the effort. Rather than throw rocks at Councilwoman Quigley who have bravely addressed the issue, lets give these prople in Springs the opportunity ...more
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on Jan 13, 11 7:43 PM
Great idea, task force, but the people i talk to in east hampton say that the word in town hall is that the town has been in a "police state" since the last gop administration. That theres a huge push on to overlook lesser offenses like the ones that effect your quality of life. if over crowding in your schools because of illegal apartments is effecting your quality of life then what in the world do you expect the town to do about it? expecially when there telling code enforcement to look the other ...more
By Bilge Water (131), Southampton on Jan 14, 11 8:37 AM
Who cares what happened in the past? We have a problem now and let's fix it. Yesterday I was reading the recorded deeds Springs section of a town paper and noticed my neighbor's house sold for only $450K. That's about 100K less than I expected. I then did some research and found lots of sales below 500K in the Springs. Property values are plummeting here. The high taxes and crowded schools are making Springs an undesirable location to own a home.

There is no legal right to occupy an illegal ...more
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Jan 14, 11 10:51 AM
Very good points harbor. Wilk & Quig are failing us because there is more to leadedship then an obesession money. Is this a case of obsession with their own money? The Springs school board has stated taxes will rise further and as noted property values will fall if the proposed plan is enacted. No town board member is a resident of Springs but they know well the problems residents face. Quig is a former East Hampton school board member and knows well how much Springs pays to E.H. to maintain a ...more
By facts man (148), east hampton on Jan 14, 11 12:44 PM
If only someone could show me, factually, where "shutting down" 30? 50? overcrowded houses (ASSUMING they are all rented "ILLEGALLY" - and I'm not so convinced there is a factual "number" out there that addresses how many illegally rented houses there ACTUALLY are, and how many kids are in ACTUALLY in them . . .) would reduce school enrollment by, let's say 30? 40? kids, and then, SOMEHOW, this would SOMEHOW magically reduce school taxes . . . and this is all, somehow, the Town Board's fault? Not ...more
By BonacP (22), East Hampton on Jan 15, 11 6:31 PM
Hey Quig.-- I mean Board Watch. This is the topic. Reality. The last time I checked Springs got all the applications for legal accessory apartment use. In fact Springs has gotten far more over crowding both legal and illegal for years and to state this is going to spread the burden is nonsense. But you don't have to listen to me just hear the Springs school board, or read the comments on this page, read the letters in the news papers, talk to somebody in Springs. This isn't a housing issue its a ...more
By facts man (148), east hampton on Jan 17, 11 9:40 AM
Ah - there you go Facts Man . As I wrote I'm going to check on those applications. but the FACT is 1. I am not Theresa Quigley (although I'll take that as a compliment because she at least tackles and attempts to SOLVE problems rather than merely saying "there's nothing I can do"; 2. I talk to plenty of people in Springs EVERY DAY; 3. I pay taxes in Springs, and; 4. As I said - there already IS a law on the books that would allow for this number of apartments - even if they all end up in Springs... ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Jan 17, 11 10:24 AM
McCormack: The homeowners pay taxes on every house in the district. Doesn't matter whether the tenants are legal or illegal or how many kids they have. The taxes are being paid.
By bailey (52), East Hampton on Jan 17, 11 1:50 PM
yes, but if 4 families are living in what is meant to be for one family, then things are not right illegal housing in Springs WILL come to an end
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Jan 17, 11 2:16 PM
The horse is out of the barn, habla espanol, viva Equador, if you built houses here the last 10 years you loved it. It's here to stay unfortunately. By the way, it's throughout the US.
By BlackDog (47), East Hampton on Jan 17, 11 2:23 PM
Can't you telephone East Hampton Family Services or Child Protective Services? If you believe there are children or adults at risk in an overcrowded, legally- or illegally-occupied house, one call is all that it should take. My understanding is that, by law, social workers have to check the situation out and ENTER the house to see for themselves. They have to write a report. Somewhere in that report won't there be a headcount and an evaluation of living conditions? Children should not be subjected ...more
By HogCreek (7), East Hampton on Jan 17, 11 3:20 PM
Springs School population 2005-2006 school year pre k-8 under 492
Springs School population 2010-2011 school year pre k-8 over 750

Now where are all these people living????????
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Jan 17, 11 6:27 PM
correction 05-06 under 500
10-11 over 750
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Jan 17, 11 6:28 PM
It's not just a problem for the school district, it's a problem for the police, fire ambulance, and highway department too. The burdon on the tax payer and LEGAL renters/rentals encompasses all of these, If one of these illegal houses catches fire, it's putting the lives of all the responders at risk. When you have mulitple families living in single family residences, there are many times walls & electrical in places where there shouldn't be, putting all, including the residents at risk in ...more
By Sag Native (54), East Hampton on Jan 17, 11 7:25 PM
and STOP it WILL No more of this!
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Jan 17, 11 8:48 PM
But it won't stop if Quig and Wilk have their way. The citizens of Springs must stop it so you better tell them NO! Fact
By facts man (148), east hampton on Jan 18, 11 8:23 AM
I was speaking to a person who used to work on school budgets and she explained it this way to me: If all of the sudden 50-100 kids exited the Springs school system next year (presumably because all of those "illegals" were run out of the hamlet - "Julio" as someone ACTUALLY said at the Town Board meeting this evening) . . . it would make LITTLE OR NO DIFFERENCE in the school budget or the tax levy on Spring's residents because the school costs are "fixed". In in other words, the school wouldn't ...more
By BonacP (22), East Hampton on Jan 21, 11 12:51 AM
We're going around in circles on this argument. Owners rent out their houses because they can't afford the taxes. Taxes go up because now there are more kids & need for services. The ONLY way to control this situation is to increase the fines. Right now, if someone is issued a summons for an illegal apartment or group rental, the owner/landlord hires an attorney who plea bargains the violations down to a couple hundred bucks. This is peanuts compared to what the landlord gets for rent. If ...more
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Jan 21, 11 1:27 PM