When a house is not a home

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


Nobody lives on either side of Carol Pavolic but her absentee neighbors still drive her batty. The Kearny resident, who lives between two abandoned 2-story homes at 365 and 369 Forest St., has had her fill of issues from those buildings in recent years and she unloaded a litany of complaints at a recent meeting of the town’s governing body.

“The grass at 369 is three feet high – it’s a mess,” Pavolic said. “Now there’s no roof, no chimney – the tarp on the roof is ripping out, it’s all over our alleyways. We’ve got to sweep it every day.”

With the house empty for the past seven years, termites have been busy inside, according to Pavolic. “There’s nothing in there but beams. It’s all rotted.”

Meanwhile, she said, “The back door is blowing back and forth. It’s right by my bedroom. I can’t sleep at night.”

On the other side of her property, at 365 Forest, Pavolic said, “There’s a broken drainpipe in the alley. You got possums, everything, back there.” On weekends, she added, “The wise guys come drinking. They burned two trees in front of the house.”

Town Administrator/Construction Code Official Michael Martello said that, “365 Forest is in foreclosure; 369 is not in foreclosure yet.”

“When I call the bank [about the maintenance problems],” Pavolic told the local lawmakers, “they say, ‘Call your town.’ ’’

That comment prompted Mayor Alberto Santos to respond: “More and more we see banks want to spread out their losses so they don’t foreclose right away …. We have ‘zombie’ foreclosures where properties just sit there.” But some, he added, “are slowly coming back.”

Because the taxes are being paid, the town is limited as to what it can do to ensure that the property is well maintained if the owner is laggard, other than to have the work done and place a tax lien on the property.

Santos assured the frustrated resident that the town would follow up on her complaints, along with similar maintenance issues with “other properties on both sides of the street.”

In the meantime, Pavolic said, “I cut the grass, I pay for shoveling snow [on the neighboring properties]. It’s a shame we got to live there.”

Complaints about property maintenance are directed to the town’s Board of Health and The Observer checked with local health officials for a history on the Forest St. properties causing Pavolic distress.

Photos by Michael Martello  365 Forest.
Photos by Michael Martello
365 Forest.


For 369 Forest:

• July 28, 2006: Complaint  is received about holes in a wooden fence. Termites are suspected as the cause.

• Aug. 3, 2006: A new owner  appears on the scene and has overgrown grass cut.

• March 30, 2007: Complaint  is received about “refrigerator, old furniture, debris in yard.” Owner removes refrigerator. A summons is issued but is dismissed on May 24, 2007,  after property is cleared.

• June 25, 2010: Complaint  is received about “high grass, weeds, construction debris and wood” on the property. Summons is issued but no court appearance after mail is returned as undeliverable, resulting in dismissal of summons by court.

• April 28, 2011: Complaint  received about “high grass.” Property placed on list for town to hire landscaper to deal with but, in the meantime, neighbor arranges to cut lawn. Town has backyard shed sealed up.

• May 30, 2014: Notation  that property is “still vacant” and that “locks changed by bank.”

For 365 Forest:

• May 2, 2011: Complaint  received about overgrown weeds and grass. Notation  that “owner moved out one to two months ago.” Town arranges to have grass and weeds cut.

• May 30, 2012: Complaint  received about high weeds. Notation that Bank of America now holds mortgage on property. Complaint addressed.

• May 16, 2013: Complaint  received about dead branches in rear yard. Town hires contractor to remove the tree limbs. May 30, 2014: Complaint  received about overgrown weeds on “abandoned property.” No violation notice issued.

• On Sept. 15, Martello  advised The Observer that “the town is cleaning up the properties and placing liens on them for the cleanup. In addition, the town will be securing the property.”

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