Weekly Feature

2015-06-26 / Front Page

Residents complain of vacant houses in ‘deplorable’ condition


Residents shared horror stories with the Town Board on Monday about the condition of nearby vacant houses — including rats, shredded tarps and overflowing water — before the board declared the structures “unsafe.”

The board’s actions clear the way for the possible demolition of houses at 868 Delaware Road, 22 Harrison Ave. and 15 Edgewood Ave.

Among the concerns shared were rampant vermin; falling roof tiles and nails; and a tarp that perpetually shreds into neighbor’s yards, clogging lawn mowers and scattering across driveways.

“Someone drilled 2 feet down into my deck, and about 25 rats took off toward that property,” said Dorothy Herman, who lives near the house at 868 Delaware Road.

Molly Hanavan, also a neighbor of that property, said, “When I pull into my driveway at night, I see the eyes looking at me. It’s pretty scary.”

Town police recently assisted the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in removing a number of animals at that property — a total of 33 dogs, 27 of which were alive and six dead, and three dead cats — in the residence and charging their owner with harboring unlicensed dogs, among many other things.

Bruno I. Varbanov, 59, was found to have a residence in “deplorable” conditions, police said. The residence was condemned by the town building inspector and Erie County Department of Health.

The second property discussed, on Harrison Avenue, also brought many neighbors to the meeting.

Mary Frank, who lives next door to it, said the house was vacated in 2010 and has been badly deteriorating since.

“Its roof ends up in my drivew ay,” she said, “and my first steps before shoveling are always vacuuming.”

She’s watched as bushes, a grill and shed all were stolen from the property.

“As the roof falls off, nails have ended up in people’s tires. It’s no longer safe for my son to play in the driveway.”

Another neighbor of the property said, “The walls are bulging. It’s a very scary, haunted-looking house. The tarp has been ripped off [the roof]. It’s all over my grounds. It’s deplorable.”

Joe Salemi, who lives across the street from the property, said it’s in danger of collapsing.

“It’s going to,” he said, “especially if we get another bad winter.”

Carl Heimiller, the town’s building inspector, said the town will make a determination of whether the house should be demolished, and the residents immediately adjacent will be notified.

He noted that for the third property, on Edgewood Avenue, he has complaints documented that go back five or six years. He said the basement is full of water up to the top step and that there is a hole in the roof.

“This is the most unsound structure [of the three],” he noted.

Paula Sheila, a longtime resident of Edgewood Avenue, implored the board to do something about this property.

“It’s so important that we get rid of this horrid structure,” she said. “It needs to be gone. We ask you, ‘Please don’t turn your backs on us.’ Everybody is willing to do everything they can, but we desperately need your help.”

A resident of Edgewood Avenue asked the building inspector what it takes to get on the list of the properties the town can declare unsafe, citing a property in terrible condition behind her father’s home. Heimiller told her that it takes a number of complaints from neighbors.

Councilman Joseph Emminger said he doesn’t want residents to think there are a number of these type of structures in the Town of Tonawanda.

“Our Building Department takes an aggressive stand on these homes as much as we can.”

Also at the meeting, Supervisor Anthony Caruana honored the winners of the Ken-Ton 2015 Garden Tour Art Contest. Niyonna Cunningham was the winner, and Sierra Munt and Phoebe Stamoolis received honorable mention.

The Town Board will hold its next regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 6, in the courtroom of the Municipal Building, located at 2919 Delaware Ave.

(Editor’s note: Do you notice an increasing number of homes in poor condition in the town? Voice your opinion by voting now in The Ken-Ton Bee’s online poll at www.kentonbee.com. Results will appear in the next edition.)

email: nspencer@beenews.com

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