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Code: 40 Illegal Living Spaces Discovered in William St. Building After Fire

Inspectors document 466 violations and returned to the William Street building four times after a freak fire caused by spontaneous combustion on Jan. 10.

Inspectors found 40 illegal tenant spaces in a William Street building during an investigation that has taken the better part of three weeks since a freak fire on Jan. 10.

The dwelling areas "have been built out over the last several years without any permits and or Certificates of Occupancy being issued," Assistant Village Manager Christopher Steers wrote in an e-mail.

The fire started a few minutes after midnight on Jan. 10, and was sparked by spontaneous combustion, fire Chief Kevin McFadden said. A contractor remodeling an office loft left polyurethane-soaked rags in the open overnight; when fumes from the rag built up in the closed space, the rags and dust from a commercial sander caught fire.

If a sprinkler system hadn't kicked in, and if a handful of employees working in a ground-floor recording studio hadn't seen the smoke, the fire could have been disastrous, McFadden said at the time.

The confusion after the fire was captured on a webcast, which was left streaming as the owners of Zedalza Entertainment .

Port Chester's problems with illegal housing, fire hazards and overcrowding have been . But while past code investigations typically wrapped up within a day or two of major fires, the investigation at 200 William St. has taken the better part of three weeks as inspectors documented a staggering number of violations.

In all, inspectors "confirmed 466 code violations," Steers wrote. The Notice of Violation extended to 59 pages and was too large to attach to an e-mail Steers sent out this weekend.

Among the violations: electrical hazards, egress violations, "fire systems violations" and an overtaxed sprinkler system. The sprinkler system was "compromised due to the unlawful build-outs," Steers wrote.

The owner has not responded to inquiries from village employees. The owner also ignored requests for mandatory fire safety inspections last year; the village issued a notice of violation in April of 2011 after inspectors unsuccessfully tried to schedule a walk-through with the owner in January and sent a follow-up notice.

The building is owned by a realty company registered in Kansas City, MO, according to documents.

Village employees have devoted more than 200 man-hours to the investigation and fire, not counting the initial response by firefighters on Jan. 10.

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George Datino February 06, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Can someone explain how owners can ignore mandatory fire safety inspections without padlocks being thrown onto the building until compliance?
Concerned View February 06, 2012 at 12:41 PM
The Village must throw the book at this owner. The maximum civil and criminal charges must be filed. Would like to see the Village take ownership of this property. Enough is enough! Turn the property into a municipal parking lot or a public park.
Interested Reader February 06, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Good possibility the Village will own this space before it's over. I would be surprised if the fines don't exceed the value of this very old building.
Bob February 06, 2012 at 01:32 PM
I would take this owner over the coals, take over the building, tear it down and sell the property for single family housing only
John B February 06, 2012 at 02:45 PM
And the beat goes on.
PC Lover February 06, 2012 at 03:35 PM
"The building is owned by a realty company registered in Kansas City, MO, according to documents." Do they own any other properties in Port Chester? Why not publish the name of the realty company and send copies of this article to code enforcement inspectors everywhere they own properties? Safe bet their Port Chester property is not anomalous to their routine way of doing business. Let's see how they like that...maybe they can ignore them too!
Nik Bonopartis February 06, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Those are all good questions. The realty company has a generic name and that name differs on official documents and notices. Hopefully I can reconcile that and get an answer on whether the company owns other property here in Port Chester.
Aidan February 06, 2012 at 10:28 PM
A $466,000 fine should be appropriate. I think that'll send a pretty strong message.

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