Village: County has dropped ball on local properties

The Village of Whitehall will wait no longer for Washington County to see to it that Flint E. Stone removes rubble from Main Street’s demolished “Chase” building.

The Whitehall Village Board last week agreed to use its own “solid waste laws” to commence legal action against Stone, 41, of Fort Ann.

In a related matter, the village board beefed up its local ordinances against un-mowed grass and encumbered sidewalks, both of which could factor in any legal move taken against Stone and Charles Friedman (Friedman also has a financial stake in the debris pile, according to Mayor Pete Telisky).

Board members expressed their frustration that, in their opinion, Washington County Code Enforcement has not taken a stronger line with Stone and Friedman, and with the Adams Family, owners of the dilapidated “Flatiron” building.

“The county tapped dance on this,” Mayor Telisky said, “and blew it.”

Still, Village Attorney Erika Sellar Ryan encouraged the village to work with the county in pursuing legal action against both property owners, basically arguing that two legal prosecutions were better than one.

Nevertheless, Mayor Telisky and the village trustees instructed the attorney to use the “solid waste laws” of the village to pursue legal action against Stone and Friedman.

Deadline looming

Washington County Code Enforcement Officer Russ Keegan has said that Stone has until Nov. 8 to remove the rubble from the demolished “Chase” building, which Stone tore down only after he was arrested by village police on March 12.

As for the Adams family –– John Tracy and Carl Adams ––they reportedly have been served with papers by a Vermont process server and have 30 days in which to make the building safe or demolish it.

Village Code Enforcement Officer Gary Bennett has pointed out, and photographs have corroborated, an ominous looking bulge on the brick Flatiron building on the side that faces the Amtrak railways station and adjoining track.

Bennett earlier reported that water has penetrated the roof on the west side of the Flatiron building, which has caused the bulge and seriously weakened the structural integrity of the building.

First Class notice

In taking legal action against delinquent property owners, the village will at least not be held back by postal delays. Both the beefed up mowing ordinance and the sidewalk encumbrance ordinance state clearly that delinquent property owners shall by notified of violations by personal letter or first class mail.

The village will no longer be hamstrung by delays caused by notifying delinquent owners by certified mail, which require a written signature.

The new mowing ordinance, which will have a public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, also makes it impossible for either the “owner, lessor or occupant” to pass the buck on taking responsibility for letting a lawn grow longer than 10 inches.

“The owner, lessor and occupant are each responsible and the Village may hold the owner, lessor or occupant liable,” the ordinance states.

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