January 29, 2015

Dryden house at ‘crossroads’

HouseBob Ellis/staff photographer
Police tape cordons off a house at 76 West Main St. in Dryden that burned in April 2014. Village officials in December ordered that house, owned by landlord Vincent Bruno and his wife, Linda, be torn down. But the village now is awaiting an engineer’s report on the feasibility of rebuilding at least a portion of the building.

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Although the owners of a burned-out apartment house at 76 W. Main St. failed to comply with a village order to demolish the home, the village is now deferring the order while the owners try to repair the building, despite doubts it can be rebuilt.
Vincent Bruno, who owns the gutted building with his wife, Linda Bruno, said Monday he plans on rebuilding the two front apartments and demolishing the third apartment in the back of the building.
The village is allowing the Brunos this opportunity despite the fact that in December it ordered the owners to obtain a demolition and building permit and a contractor to remove the building by Jan. 22. The village set a deadline for the building’s removal as March 23.
The village is now deferring that order while it waits for an engineer’s report on the feasibility of rebuilding the structure.
Mayor James Zimmer said the village and the owner of the property are at a “crossroads” now.
The intent of the order was to have a building that is a safety hazard removed from the village, Zimmer said. But he said he is willing to give the Brunos some latitude if the building can be repaired, resolving the issue.
The engineer’s assessment on the feasibility of salvaging the building is expected to arrive by the end of the week, according to David Sprout, a town code enforcement officer.
Bruno applied for a building permit for the property last week, Zimmer said, adding no building permit will be issued until the plans are approved by the town code enforcement office.
The village contracts with the town for code enforcement services.
The village board is set to find Bruno in violation at its Feb. 12 meeting if the engineering plans are not received and the demolition and building permit is not issued, Zimmer said.
“This is not going to be a successful ploy on his part to delay the process,” he said.
If the board does find Bruno in violation of the order, the village has the authority to order the demolition of the apartment house and add the cost to the property’s tax bill, Zimmer said. If the taxes are not paid, the village can seize and auction the property, he said.
Zimmer was skeptical an engineer would find part of the burned apartment house to be salvageable.
The roof of the building was completely burned in the April fire and does not cover the front two apartments, Kevin Ezell, a town of Dryden code enforcement officer, wrote to Zimmer and the board in a Dec. 1 letter.
“The rear apartment is not salvageable,” Ezell wrote, noting the framing in the apartment was severely damaged by the fire.
“Without major repair and construction, this structure is not fit for habitation,” he wrote.
Repairing the building is also complicated since the building is in a flood zone and would have to be rebuilt to comply with the village’s Flood Damage Prevention Law, Ezell wrote. The building, which did not previously comply with the law adopted in 1987, will have to be rebuilt to the flood law standards as more than 50 percent of the structure was damaged.
Police are still investigating the April 18 fire that gutted the multifamily building and left seven people homeless, village police Lt. Michael Watkins said Tuesday.
The case is open, but the investigation has yielded inconclusive results, Watkins said.
The state Office of Fire Prevention and Control could not determine what caused the fire, but ruled out arson, village Fire Chief Rick Young Jr. said earlier this month.
Young and village Police Chief Margaret Ryan both noted in early January the possibility that there was methamphetamine being manufactured in an apartment in the building came up in the investigations.
“We don’t have any conclusion on that,” Watkins said Tuesday of the possible meth-making. “It’s all been rumor, speculation.”
Demolishing the building would not affect the investigation at this point, he said.

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