Saturday, March 30, 2019
Man's house torn down while he was in Florida
A law in New York’s biggest town allows the town to demolish homes deemed “dangerous” or “abandoned” — and it is affecting hundreds of people.
“This was the lot,” Phil Williams said as he stood in an empty yard in the West Hempstead neighborhood he once called home. “And as you can see, there is nothing left.”
Williams went to Florida in December 2014 for knee surgery. When he returned months later in August, his house was gone.
“I bought the house from my dad in 1974,” Williams recalled. “My wife and I lived there. We had six children that lived in the house.”
The Town of Hempstead tore down Williams’ house according to Chapter 90 of town law.
It’s a law that allows building inspectors to identify and demolish structures that they deem are dangerous or abandoned. Currently, the town is dealing with 850 open Chapter 90 cases.
The town’s definition of dangerous is defined, in part, as something that is "…unsafe structurally, or a fire hazard or a nuisance to the general public."
"The house was not a danger. It’s just a ridiculous statement," Williams said.
It wasn’t just the house that was a loss for Williams, though. Decades worth of personal belongings and memories — all of them, gone.
Now, he is taking the town to court.