A Staten Island judge on Thursday ordered the owners of one of the city's oldest houses to fix it immediately or run the risk of having to pay fines of more than $8.5 million — 20 times the property's fair market value.
In a colorfully written, 22-page decision, Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Philip Straniere said the owners knew in 2009 when they bought the historic Manee-Seguine Homestead that the house and surrounding acres were landmarked and they would be responsible for maintaining the building.
Instead, he said, they adopted a policy of “demolition by neglect” and ignored prior court orders to make repairs and post bonds that could be used to fund fixes.
Straniere added that the owners never filed a hardship application with the city to get out of the landmark designation for the house, which was built starting in 1690 and designated a landmark in 1984.
Under the designation, the owners were allowed to build residential units on the two-acre, ocean-view parcel as compensation for maintaining the historic home — one of the six oldest houses in the city. But they did not do that, either.
"(The owners) do not have to take any steps to develop the property; that is their choice. But they are required by the statute to maintain it. They have not done so," the judge wrote.
He said the city's request for an injunction to block the owners permanently from “continuing their policy of ‘demolition by neglect’... is granted.”