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Queens Chronicle

Residents to police: Squatters must go

Individuals at 102nd meeting say dwellers are often drunk and noisy

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Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 1:26 pm, Thu Feb 2, 2012.

Drunk and noisy squatters residing in a house on Park Lane South in Richmond Hill have got to go, residents told police at the 102nd Precinct Community Council meeting last week.

Residents living near the problem house flocked to the meeting at Moose Hall in Richmond Hill to ask the police for help.

Resident Dan Seaman said squatters have illegally staked a claim on the house after it was foreclosed by HSBC Bank in 2009.

Seaman said he found out about the squatters last month, when he saw two police cars in front of the home.

He said police officers told him that a fight broke out when the squatters on the first floor tried to evict the squatters on the top floor.

Seaman said the squatters frequently yell, scream and have loud arguments in the middle of the night, disturbing the neighbors’ sleep. The resident alleged that some of the occupants are intoxicated and use drugs.

He contacted the city Buildings Department and called 311 about the squatters.

Receiving no response from the agencies, Seaman brought several of his neighbors with him to express their frustrations at the council meeting.

“It’s a very serious issue,” Seaman said.

Other neighbors said there were days when they could smell the odor of marijuana coming from the house.

Capt. Martin Briffa, the precinct’s executive officer, told Seaman that he would refer his drug complaint to the precinct’s narcotics unit for investigation. However, he said that he could take no police action on the trespass complaint since he would need the property owner to press charges against the squatters for the violation. Neither the owner of the property nor any representative has come forward, Briffa said.

“We’ll try our best within the law,” said Briffa. “We’re here to help.”

Kate Mooney, a representative of Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), and this reporter also contacted the mortgage holder’s representative requesting further information about the legal status of the occupants.

Paul Koches, executive vice president of Ocwen Financial, the firm which represented HSBC Bank in the foreclosure proceedings, said in an email to the Queens Chronicle that the property went through a foreclosure process ending in March of 2010.

“We have been attempting to evict the occupants so the property can be sold, but that process is still working its way through a protracted judicial proceeding,” said Koches. He added that, “we are checking with our property management vendor and want to provide all relevant information so that we can rectify any problems.”

In other meeting news, Kew Gardens resident Sylvia Hack, a member of Community Board 9, complained that she and her neighbors are having their cars ticketed and towed for violating alternate side of the street parking rules. Hack told Briffa that she cannot understand how alternate-side street cleaning rules can be in effect on 82nd Road between Kew Gardens Road and Austin Street when the block was under construction.

“There’s gotta be some relief from what is going on because it is not right,” Hack said.

Briffa told Hack that precinct officers did not issue any summonses for alternate side of the street violations last year.

He suggested that she and her neighbors check the bottom of the summonses to see which agency is issuing the tickets.

Murray Berger, of the Kew Gardens Civic Association, asked if police had nabbed the perpetrators responsible for three burglaries that had taken place on 127th Street during Christmas week, and a garage break-in on 82nd Avenue, from which a mountain bike was stolen.

Briffa said that although he was aware of the burglaries, he did not know if the criminals had been caught. He noted that the incidents are under investigation.

The captain said that police do not believe the burglaries to be part of a pattern.

While praising the precinct for doing an excellent job with dwindling resources, Richmond Hill Block Association President Simcha Waisman urged members of the audience to write to Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and their representatives to demand that more police officers be assigned to the 102nd Precinct.

Community Council President Maria Thomson said the precinct did not receive any officers from the police class that graduated last month.

“Because of the fact that we are doing so well with [crime] statistics, we are being penalized,” said Thomson.

Community Board 9 Public Safety Committee co-Chairman Jim Coccovillo reported that the board voted to oppose the state liquor license renewal application of Moka Lounge in Richmond Hill based on input from the precinct community council and other agencies.

The license is due to expire on April 30, but the community board’s decision is nonbinding.

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