TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Progress is slow but steady at Harbour Point Gardens with 22 out of 58 evacuated apartments ready for tenants to come back home. Troy Deputy Mayor Chris Nolan says code enforcement officers are on site every day making sure the contractors live up to the promises in their work permit.
“There was underlying damage done to the structures when they removed the brick facades because of the haphazard way they removed it. We needed assurances that those structures are going to be up to spec,” Nolan explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
It’s that progress that’s lead a Troy City Code Enforcement Court judge to extend the time until property owners will have to face 12 tickets against them alleging the buildings are uninhabitable. The judge tabling Wednesday’s court appearance until August 23. The city’s attorney also says there’s no plans yet to issue additional tickets based on dozens more violations at the complex.
“In some cases, you want the tickets that have been issued to go through the court system, so that you can focus on those issues. We obviously are holding it in reserve to issue additional tickets,” Nolan says.
However when asked if this means the landlords are acting in good faith, Nolan says not quite yet.
“I’m still holding back judgment on the property owners. I want to see the contractor that they’ve hired do a quality job in returning those apartments,” he says. “There are other items that they have to work on. There’s holes in drywall, and there are some long-term fixes that we know they are going to have to work on even after they get people back in the apartments.”
But it’s out of the frying pan and into the fryer. While there’s a little more time to prepare their code enforcement court case, Troy City Council issues subpoenas ordering these landlords to take questions and answer under oath at the next investigative hearing August 17. Councilwoman Irene Sorriento says “no more beating around the bush”.
“We weren’t given clear answers before. We want to know who the actual owners of the property are,” says Sorriento in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “And what are their future plans of maintaining the property to the point that this doesn’t happen ever again?”
City Council President Carmella Mantello says Harbour Point’s legal team is fighting back. An email from Attorney James Cox on behalf of 182 Delaware LLC—a subsidiary of Lexington Property Group—writes in an email “we hereby request that the City Council withdraw said subpoenas” claiming the subpoenas are unenforceable. The reasons given by Cox are as follows:
James C. Knox, Attorney
- Failure to provide a witness fee and travel expenses as required by CPLR 2303 (a);
- Improper addition of threat of a misdemeanor, one year in jail, and/or a fine of $1,000.00 for failure to comply (not authorized for a non-judicial subpoena, coercive, and arguably an attempt to intimidate witnesses);
- Improperly interfering on matters of state policy;
- Improperly subjecting the subpoenaed parties to harassment;
- Subpoenaed documents are not reasonably related to the subject matter under investigation or the public purpose to be served; and
- Subpoenas are issued in excess of lawful statutory authority.
The council’s subpoenas were served to 182 Delaware LLC and its owners rep, Jay Friedman, as well as Rob Howard, Samuel Schwartz, Victor Mandel, Michael Evangelista and Lisa Derkes. All are either property managers, office staff, contracted workers, or members of Lexington Property Group. The email threatens to go to the Supreme Court if the city doesn’t withdraw. Mantello replies in a statement:
I am deeply disturbed by the failure of the owners and management of 182 Delaware LLC to honor lawfully issued subpoenas in relation to their management of Harbour Pointe. We owe it to the people of the city of Troy to ensure tenants rights are protected and landlords meet their responsibilities. We will pursue legal action to compel their testimony.Carmella R. Mantello, Troy City Council President