Friday, 20 November 2009 00:00
In the early morning of Friday, Nov. 13, the Village of Westbury Building Department, accompanied by the Nassau County Police Department, executed a search warrant with respect to alleged multiple code violations at a home on the west side of Post Avenue.
This effort was a part of the village’s increased code enforcement efforts aimed at combating illegal housing and other health and safety code violations. It was also the culmination of an extensive investigation of the property by the building department, initiated by reports of illegal housing and other activity at the site. As a result of the search warrant, summonses were written with respect to 16 violations that were found to exist. If convicted on all counts, the owner of the premises could be subject to maximum punishment of up to $28,600 in fines and eight months in jail.
According to Westbury Village’s Senior Building Inspector Bill Mello, who participated in the raid, a search warrant is a legal process that is authorized by the Village Justice Court, enabling Westbury personnel to enter into a house or other property to investigate alleged code violations.
“We use a search warrant as a last resort when we have probable cause that code violations exist at a location but where the property owner has refused numerous requests for us to inspect for code compliance,” said Mello. “The village’s judges are very careful in making sure that a warrant is issued only where the village has demonstrated under the law that the use of a warrant should be permitted.”
Mello noted that the building department has successfully used search warrants to address some of the most egregious illegal housing violations in the Village, and obtained significant fines and other penalties from the owners convicted of the code violations.
“We are committed to using all tools at our disposal to root out serious code violations that threaten the health and safety of the inhabitants of these premises, and that deteriorate the quality of life in our neighborhoods,” said Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro. “A priority of village government is to protect all residents, and to protect our neighborhoods from those who would illegally profit from violating our laws to the detriment of their neighbors and our village. I and the village board have instructed the building department to be as aggressive as possible in attacking the most serious and dangerous code violations, including by the use of search warrants where necessary.”
Cavallaro indicated that the village is currently seeking a number of additional search warrants to address other properties where the village has reason to believe that serious illegal housing and code violations exist.
“It is important that all residents let the village know of situations where suspicious or illegal activity is occurring so that the building department, and where appropriate, the Nassau Police Department, can perform the needed investigations to eliminate illegal, dangerous and unhealthy living conditions, and protect the quality of our neighborhoods,” said Cavallaro.
According to Mello, any resident who has a concern or wants to report suspicious or illegal activity can do so anonymously if they prefer by calling the Building Department at 334-1700, ext. 2 or by calling the village’s new Code Enforcement Hotline at 333-1869.