Categorized | Media Coverage

A Letter to an SBU Student Journalist

Recently, SBU student journalist Jaclyn Lattanza contacted our group while working on a story. She emailed the following questions to Tony DeRosa. What follows are his responses.

  • What issues continue to affect your community?
    Although we have made significant progress since our group was formed in March of this year we still have numerous (over 170 that we are aware of at present and there could be more) illegal boarding houses that are owned by absentee landlords many of which are either in court and/or have been cited by the town for violation of town codes. Until each of the landlords comply with town codes we will continue to see our neighborhood property values decrease and quality of life negatively impacted. In addition there have been at least 7 known party houses identified which continue to bring significant danger to students and residents. These parties go on into the early hours of the morning clearly disturbing the surrounding residents. On both of these issues we are working with Town and University officials as well as the Suffolk County Police Department and hopefully we’ll see some positive results of their efforts to crack down on these abuses in the near future. Enforcement of the violations to town and county laws is crucial to our success.
  • What progress has the Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners Association made on the off-campus housing issue?
    We have been able to garner the support and cooperation of our Town, County and University officials and have had numerous town code changes and internal procedural changes in all three of these establishments that have assisted us in our fight against illegal housing. A summary of these accomplishments can be found on our web site at www.stonybrookconcernedhomeowners.org Just click on “Accomplishments” in the navigation bar to view this summary.
  • What progress has the Town of Brookhaven made on this issue?
    Prior to our group being formed in March of this year our Town Councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld had been working on this issue and had drafted numerous code changes to combat illegal housing in the town of Brookhaven. Once our group started attending town board meetings, and got the attention of Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, we started to see significant action being taken on these changes. We also proposed additional changes to town codes, most of which have been adopted already and more are in progress.Please refer to our web site page and click on “Accomplishments” in the navigation bar to view this summary
  • What progress has the University made on this issue?
    We feel strongly that the University should have addressed the growth of student enrollment and off-campus housing years ago and studied the impact that this would have on the surrounding community before it got to the proportions it is today. We feel the University is an asset to the Three Village area and Brookhaven Township in many ways and want it to remain and prosper. However, they have to place a higher priority on their housing issues, both on and off-campus, and address the impact that their growth has on the community and work with us and State, County, and Town officials to resolve this problem.With that being said I’m pleased to inform you that since our group was formed we reached out to the University and are now working closely with University officials and they are on board and are being supportive and cooperative in addressing our concerns. The biggest and fastest way the University can help is to escalate the on-campus housing construction of the 1100 beds scheduled to be on-line in the next 2-5 years and get support from the State and private investors that will allow for the building of housing whether it be on campus property or off-campus in properly zoned areas as quickly as possible. For a listing of progress to date from the University once again refer to “Accomplishments” in the navigation bar to view the summary.
  • What has the Association and the University discussed about this issue lately?
    We meet monthly with University officials and in the interim have communications as necessary. Our current discussions center around the following:

    • Status of off-campus housing efforts with private developers and land owners
    • Timing of the first of 1100 beds for on campus housing and roll out dates
    • Status of discussions with nearby colleges and other areas regarding the possible rental of existing housing to students.
    • What actions the University is taking for those students who have been reported as being disturbances to neighborhood residents particularly at the 7 known party houses.
  • Who are the Stony Brook faculty and staff who are contributing negatively to this issue? Where can I find this information?
    The negative contribution from University faculty and staff is coming from owners of these houses that continue to not obey the town codes and continue to rent their homes to students above the four unrelated as described by town code. If the University administration really wanted to assist our community residents and show that the University is a good neighbor , they should encourage these absentee landlords to sell their homes to families, or at the very least obey the law as it relates to whole house rentals. These investors, along with others who are not employed by the University, have had only one goal in mind and that is to make a profit at our expense without having any concern for their neighbors or the community. A listing of all property owners which we believe own illegal boarding houses, and was obtained by researching public records, has been shared with University officials. We have identified those we believe are employed or in some way affiliated with the University, for their review and for them to take any action as they deem appropriate.For privacy concerns and various other reasons I do not want to reveal the names of these individuals, or the names of the corporations that they have set up to facilitate the purchase of these homes. It should be noted that quite a few own multiple homes.
  • Where can I find statistics of how many absentee landlords the Association knows about?
    When we began our research in March of this year the listing of homes believed to be illegal boarding houses was provided to us by community members who either live next to these houses or were made aware of these houses by talking to other people in the neighborhood. In our continuing research we pulled the deeds from public records and developed a list by address and by owner. In doing so we came across many who owned more than one home. To date we have identified 197 homes as potential boarding houses. From this number and from further research we have determined that 22 of these homes have since been converted back to family owned or family rented properties or in some cases we determined that the owner occupies the home and rents to 4 or less students. This number changes daily and as our membership grows (we now total over 1000) we find out more information and we will continue to either add new houses to the list or move them from the potential boarding house list to the family occupied or owned list (of course I prefer the latter)

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