December 1, 2021

Party house shut down

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Cortland police raided this house at 70 Tompkins St. Feb. 13 to find more than 75 people, many of them students, partying without masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The four hosts, all SUNY Cortland students, have been charged.

Cortland shut down a building Friday where a large off-campus party drew more than 70 people without masks last month, city fire Capt. Michael Tenkate announced Friday.

Tenkate, the city’s interim director of code enforcement, said code enforcement officers inspected the property Tuesday and found a number of code violations that constituted a hazard to occupants, including:

  • Electrical problems.
  • A lack of working fire extinguishers.
  • Missing or disabled smoke detectors.
  • Structural problems.
  • Blocked exits.
  • Unsafe railings.
  • Unsanitary holes in the walls.

The city declared the building unfit for human occupancy and residents were given until 6 p.m. Friday to leave.

“The … property has been determined by this office to constitute a severe threat both to its occupants and the general public,” Tenkate said in a news release. “Therefore, the rental permit for 70 Tompkins St. has been temporarily suspended effective March 2, 2021.”

Students at the address have been offered housing by SUNY Cortland, Tenkate said.

The inspection follows a party Feb. 13 in which four SUNY Cortland students were charged — and four students suspended from college, when police found more than 75 people partying without masks.

Police noticed groups of college-age people walking toward 70 Tompkins St., which had been the site of complaints of large, loud gatherings over the past weeks, police Deputy Chief Paul Sandy said following the party.

The noise exceeded the legal limit at 50 feet from the property.

When police approached, an occupant of the building shouted to turn off the music and for others to go upstairs.

Police asked a woman leaving the building to let them in. Sandy said police found evidence of drinking and identified the four hosts, as well as a dozen guests — none of them wearing masks. They estimated another 75 people were either locked in bedrooms or had jumped out windows.

The guests included current and former SUNY students, as well as visitors from other colleges.

The four hosts, who did not comply with police requests to get the others out of the rooms, were each charged with a count of prohibited noise, a violation.

The city’s zoning department has also issued a notice of violation for this property. It’s in an R-2 zoning district, which allows college-recognized sororities and fraternities, but it is not occupied by a fraternity or sorority, the city announced.

The city is considering further legal action. County records show the property is owned by S&G Comstock Properties LLC of Syracuse, but details were unavailable.