B y Lee Tugas
Flint E. Stone may be removing rubble from Main Street’s old “Chase” building, which he earlier demolished under a March court order, but not quick enough for Whitehall’s Village Code Enforcement Officer.
Meanwhile, no progress appears to have been made in the case against “flat iron” building owners, the Adams Family, according to Washington County Code Enforcement Office Russ Kiggins.
Kiggins said John Tracy Adams, Carl Adams and other members of Adams Family Properties own the dilapidated “flat iron” building, located near the new, nearly completed Amtrak station.
Flint Stone’s rubble is on the west side of Main Street, while the “flat iron building” is on the east side of Main Street, across from the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company.
Addressing Flint Stone, Kiggins said the “Chase” building owner had been in village court before Judge Julie Egan last Wednesday, Sept. 25, to report on progress made in removing tons of rubble that remain from Stone’s court-ordered demolishment of the building in mid-March.
Keegan said Stone had been cleaning debris from the walls of the two neighboring buildings, and he had just removed a small amount of rubble from the huge pile remaining from the collapse. Keegan said Stone was using a small bucket loader and a truck to do the job.
A check by a Whitehall Times photographer on Monday, Sept. 23, and again on Monday, Sept. 30, did indeed show rubble had been removed. But the amount of rubble was not sufficient enough to please Village Code Enforcement Officer Gary Bennett.
“When you think Stone has had since March,” Bennett said, “it is ludicrous that he continues to stonewall.” Bennett insists that the rubble should be entirely removed.
“If you take any municipality in the Glens Falls area,” Bennett said, “those kinds of buildings are torn down and cleaned out within three days.”
County Code Enforcement Officer Keegan said that Stone had been given a deadline, Friday, Nov. 8, to remove the rest of the debris. If not, the county would again take legal action against Stone.
Keegan did not say whether that action would involve another village police arrest, the tinder that sparked Stone into demolishing the building in March, after he had avoided for four months an initial order to “remedy” the problem issued in December, 2012.
“We’re making some progress on the one,” Keegan said. “And we’re being stonewalled on the other,” he added, referring to the Adams Family.
The “flat iron” building is made of brick. But brick or not, the building has been labeled a structure in serious disrepair by both village and county officials. For example, the Whitehall Fire Company has reported that two stories of a covered porch have begun to separate from the building. In July, Bennett said water had penetrated the building’s west-side roof, weakening the exterior wall.
Keegan said the county Code Enforcement Office had not only sent a regular letter but also a certified order on Sept. 11 to Adams Family Properties to make the building “safe and secure or demolish and remove it.”
Keegan said County Code Enforcement had not received a receipt from the Adams Family that they have gotten the certified order. Once County Code Enforcement has this receipt, Keegan said, the Adams Family has 30 days to remedy the building’s problems or remove it.
Meanwhile, Bennett, the village’s code enforcement officer, remains skeptical.
“It’s like a cartoon, a joke,” he said, referring to both Flint Stone and the Adams Family.
“A nasty joke,” he added.
The Chase building rubble should be gone by now, Bennett repeated, and he predicted that Adams Family Properties would wait until the “29th day” of their 30-day warning, start work, and then demand more time. “And they’ll get it,” Bennett added.
The village code enforcement officer said that it was his belief that while the county chases after Flint Stone and the Adams Family, the village cannot initiate court action of its own.
This may or may not be the case. But in the not-too-distant past, the village used its powers of eminent domain” to seize an Adams Family property on Williams Street. The village demolished that property, which was adjacent to the entrance of the Whitehall Recreation Center.