Homeowner facing fines a year after landslide

Saratoga County

WATERFORD, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Back in 2020, an unexpected landslide displaced many people from their homes. Now, one homeowner and the Town of Waterford are at odds over who should be on the hook to finish cleaning up the mess.

After the 2020 landslide, Terri Murphy’s home has been left dangling inches away from a giant crater.

“It looks like an asteroid hit in the front of my house,” said Murphy.

Terry Murphy, who built the house at 1A Weaver Ave. back in 1992, said prior to the incident he never had any issues with the property. He said his home was the sight to see in the neighborhood.

“It was the jewel of the neighborhood and now it’s going to be an eye sore,” he said.

During the landslide, his backyard and deck fell onto a private road.

A year later, Murphy and his wife Mary said they are left to pick up the pieces and the cost of the damages. Mr. Murphy said the Town of Waterford and the insurance companies are not coming up with any money.

“I built a half a million-dollar house. Now my life’s investment and my life’s work are gone,” said Murphy. 

By orders of the town, the house has been fenced off and trespassers are prohibited. Waterford Town Supervisor Jack Lawler said the structure has been condemned because of safety.

“It’s an unsafe structure the way it is, and we really need some resolution. We want to know what’s the longer-term plan for this property because it’s dangling half off a cliff, and it’s on an ongoing danger to the community,” said Lawler.

“The town of Waterford gave me a building permit. If they thought it was an unsafe place to build, then they certainly shouldn’t have given me a building permit,” said Murphy.

Waterford issued a $1,500 fee along with a letter sent to the Murphys for having an abandoned home. 

“We have a vacant property registry in the town, and there is a fee attached to that. The purpose of the registry is to encourage property owners to keep their homes in good shape,” said Lawler.

The Murphys feel that the town hasn’t helped them recover. 

“We just received absolutely zero help from anybody, and no contact whatso ever,” said Murphy.

“The letter clearly said if Mr. Murphy has any questions or feels like his property should not be on the registry, to please call us. But as of yet, we haven’t heard from Mr. Murphy,” said Lawler. 

The cause of the landslide is unknown at this time.

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