DRAFT COPY- MINUTES
SPECIAL MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD
OF THE TOWN OF SARATOGA, 30 FERRY ST.,
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Supervisor Thomas Wood opened the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance
at 7:34 p.m.
Roll call: Ruth Drumm, Town Clerk, called the roll. Supervisor Thomas Wood- present, Councilman Fred Drumm- present, Councilman Charles Hanehan- absent, Councilwoman Betty Koval – present, Councilman Michael McLoughlin – present
Also present: Town Attorney William Reynolds, Calvin Gong, Laurel Stephenson, Stenographer, Deputy Town Clerk Linda McCabe, Town Engineer Kenneth Martin, and other interested members of the public were also present.
Supervisor Thomas Wood explained that the purpose of the meeting is to conduct a hearing regarding the property at 1390 Rt. 9P owned by Calvin Gong. He explained that the board has received numerous complaints as to its unsightly and unsafe condition and that various actions have been taken by the town but still no improvements have been made to the property.
Supervisor Thomas Wood added that a stenographer will be present and persons will be sworn in before giving their testimony. A transcript will be available upon request for a fee.
Town Attorney William Reynolds explained that on February 12, 2007 a legal action against Calvin Gong was authorized by the town board based upon receipt and review of a report dated February 9, 2007 prepared by Town Engineer Kenneth Martin, PE regarding the property of Calvin Gong at 1390 Rt. 9P. Town Engineer Kenneth Martin examined the property on January 18, 2007. He examined both the interior and exterior of the building and took numerous photographs. He produced a written report of his findings dated February 9th stating his professional opinion that the building has been so structurally damaged by the fire that it is subject to partial or complete collapse. He also noted that there is also considerable debris on the property. Town Attorney William Reynolds added that Chapter 182–3 of town code refers to structures that are unsafe or dangerous to the public. It gives provisions to conduct a hearing to determine if the report by Town Engineer Kenneth Martin is accurate and a Notice of Enforcement went to Calvin Gong which provides him with the opportunity to be heard. The Notice of Enforcement and the Affidavit of Service with the engineer’s report have been given to the town board and Calvin Gong has also had a chance to review the report. Town Attorney William Reynolds noted that he has also been sited for violations of Section 216 of the town code which deals with the dumping of rubbish and debris.
Town Attorney William Reynolds then asked Town Engineer Kenneth Martin to give further evidence to the board.
Town Engineer Kenneth Martin was then sworn in by Laurel Stephenson. Town Attorney William Reynolds asked Town Engineer Kenneth Martin to state his qualifications for the record. He responded that he is a Professional Engineer with 30 years experience and a principal with Jarrett- Martin Engineers.
Town Engineer Kenneth Martin stated he examined the structure for the purpose of evaluating the structural integrity of the existing burned out portion of the structure and of the new section of roof that has been partially constructed. He found that the new construction of the roof rafters was insufficient and they are bending. The existing collar ties have failed and are not supporting the roof (photo #4385). The roof rafters have charred areas on each side ¼ to ⅜ inch deep which leads to a 33% decrease in timber. Part of the older building has splices in the roof rafters. The splice is approximately 13” in length except for the one in photo #4398 which is not spliced and has a ¼” separation. He added that there is an area of the kitchen floor that has dropped 3” to 6” which indicates the foundation or floor system has failed in the middle of the floor. The utilities (plumbing systems, heating system and electrical systems) have not been used in approximately 6 years since the fire and appear to be in such disrepair that the systems would need replacing.
Town Engineer Kenneth Martin then presented exterior photos of the building as shown in Exhibit photos # 2 through 13. These photos show there are pallets, concrete blocks, ladders and scaffold leaning into trees and against the house. There is lumber from demolition, lattice for fence, a dishwasher, garbage cans etc. in the yard area. Across the road on the Saratoga Lake Beach frontage, there is a pile of lumber from demolition debris, a canoe, garbage can, concrete block and fencing etc.
Town Engineer Kenneth Martin stated in his opinion the structure is not suitable for anyone to live in or for repair. Town Attorney William Reynolds then read a paragraph from Town Engineer Kenneth Martin’s report as follows: This structure has been so structurally damaged by the fire; has such faulty construction past and present; has a rotted floor system or unstable foundation; that it is my opinion the structure is now subject to possible partial or complete collapse, and should be demolished. Town Engineer Kenneth Martin confirmed that his opinion was based on Engineering Standards.
Town Attorney William Reynolds and Town Engineer Kenneth Martin concluded presentation of the town’s evidence and findings. (A copy of Town Engineer Kenneth Martin’s report is on file in the minutes’ appendix.)
Supervisor Thomas Wood invited Calvin Gong to address the board with his proofs, comments or evidence. Calvin Gong was then sworn in by Laurel Stephenson.
Calvin Gong stated that when he was served, his copy of the engineer’s report did not include any photographs. He stated that he is at a disadvantage due to that. He requested and received the photographs and was allowed time to review them.
Calvin Gong responded to Town Engineer Kenneth Martin’s report of the inspection done on January 18, 2007. He disagreed that the new roof rafters on the south side of the new roof away from the boat launch were not up to building code. He then referenced the International Residential Code page 264 regarding roof and ceiling construction and table 802.5.1.(8) ground snow load which uses 70 pounds per square foot, not 65 pounds per square foot (NYS Building Code). He asked to see Mr. Martin’s engineering calculations. He added regarding the roof rafters not being in place he filed for a Building Permit about a year ago and after 3 months of work on the temporary roof a Stop Work Order was issued. He explained that is why the new roof is not secure as it is a work in transition. Supervisor Thomas Wood explained to Calvin Gong that the reason the Stop Work Order was issued is that a formal engineering plan was requested stamped by a professional engineer of the work to be done and he did not provide one. Calvin Gong stated that he did submit a handwritten plan. Supervisor Thomas Wood stated that it did not meet the specifications required.
Calvin Gong then addressed the matter of the attic space and the 2” x 4” ceiling joist failure. He stated that the 2” x 4” construction is what was used in the 50’s or 60’s when the house was built. He stated that his point is that the created space is in transition. He then addressed the problem noted with the new roof not being fitted properly and again referred to the Stop Work Order being given and that he had to stop work. He stated that he was able to secure his roof and it did withstand the Valentine’s Day 28” snowfall. It is still standing. He agreed with Town Engineer Kenneth Martin’s opinion that it is subject to partial or complete collapse but disagrees that it should be demolished. He noted that it has withstood windstorms, snowstorms and adverse weather for over six years since the fire and remains standing. Calvin Gong then stated that the splices were not by today’s code and the 1” x 4” is not a structural problem but a cosmetic problem. He noted that the crawl space is by the code. Regarding the plumbing, heating and electrical systems, they are not in use since the house has not been lived in since the fire. He added that the first thing Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation did during the fire was cut the electrical power so there should be no concern of an electrical hazard. In his conclusion to the board, he asked the board to allow him a more formal presentation.
Supervisor Thomas Wood asked Calvin Gong what degree he has and Calvin Gong responded that he is a RPI graduate of 1981 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He then asked Calvin Gong what year did the fire happen and Calvin Gong could not remember. He then asked Calvin Gong if it has been six or seven years and Calvin Gong agreed. Supervisor Thomas Wood asked if the building has continued to deteriorate over the six or seven years and Calvin Gong agreed that it had. Supervisor Thomas Wood asked Calvin Gong if there is any reason to believe that the building would be repaired and Calvin Gong responded that he was doing that until he was issued a Stop Work Order. Supervisor Thomas Wood then noted that it was issued due to his failure to present a stamped engineered plan. Calvin Gong stated that he did submit plans that he drew up himself using his engineering knowledge. Supervisor Thomas Wood added that you have to have plans and they need to be approved and that his plans did not meet the requirements and specifications.
Supervisor Thomas Wood then asked if anyone present would like to give a statement on Calvin Gong’s behalf. No one came forward. He then allowed comments from four others who all stated that the property is an eyesore.
Supervisor Thomas Wood asked if any board members would like to ask Calvin Gong any questions. Councilman Michael McLoughlin asked him how much longer he would need to remedy the situation. Calvin Gong responded that his intention is to fix the house as he is also tired of looking at it. He would have the roof by the summer of 2007. He then added possibly by September or October of 2007. Councilman Michael McLoughlin asked if it would be better to start over instead of trying to fix the house. Calvin Gong stated that he has a fixation on old houses and with his background he is capable of fixing it. Councilman Michael McLoughlin suggested he sell the lot and enjoy life. Calvin Gong stated he likes a house on the Lake.
Supervisor Thomas Wood asked Calvin Gong if he received a letter from a citizen suggesting he seek help from Habitat for Humanity. He stated that up to now he has been stubborn about fixing the house himself but he added that he would accept their assistance as it would make it more achievable. Councilman Michael McLoughlin then asked Calvin Gong if he has the financial resources to do so. He stated that he does have financial resources.
Calvin Gong closed saying that his intention is to fix up the house, if not completely done at least to the point that his neighbors and others at the Lake wouldn’t mind looking at it.
Town Attorney William Reynolds asked Town Engineer Kenneth Martin if he could explain why the house is still standing after the 28” snowfall on Valentine’s Day. Town Engineer Kenneth Martin stated that he would estimate without looking it up that the snow would weigh somewhere around 25 to 30 pounds per square foot as opposed to 60 pounds, design load. He added that there is a commercial building in Lake George that has been standing for 50 years that did come down in that storm. He stated he had no explanation.
Supervisor Thomas Wood declared the hearing closed at 8:45 p.m. and the board excused themselves to deliberate. At 8:50 p.m. the board returned and Supervisor Thomas Wood stated that it was a consensus of the board to support the findings in Town Engineer Kenneth Martin’s report.
On a motion by Supervisor Thomas Wood and seconded by Councilman Fred Drumm the following Resolution #07-44 Calvin Gong Property 1390 Rt. 9P was adopted by vote: Supervisor Thomas Wood – aye, Councilman Fred Drumm – aye, Councilman Charles Hanehan – absent, Councilwoman Betty Koval - aye, Councilman Michael McLoughlin – aye Carried 4 – 0.
WHEREAS, at a regular meeting of the Saratoga Town Board held on February 12, 2007, legal action against Calvin Gong was duly authorized based upon receipt and review of a report prepared by Kenneth Martin, PE, Town Engineer, and
WHEREAS, a Notice of Enforcement Action was thereafter prepared by the Town Attorney and served upon Calvin Gong on February 19, 2007 as more fully appears from the Affidavit of Service, and
WHEREAS, copies of said Notice of Enforcement Action and the Affidavit of Service have been filed with the Board, and
WHEREAS, said Notice of Enforcement Action provided Calvin Gong with the opportunity to be heard at a special meeting of the Town Board, to be held on February 27, 2007, and
WHEREAS, after hearing all of the proofs and reviewing the evidence in the case including the testimony and evidence offered by Calvin Gong, it is hereby
RESOLVED, that the building located at 1390 Route 9P in the Town of Saratoga is an unsafe building within the meaning of Chapter 182 of the Town Code, and it is further
RESOLVED, that the premises located at 1390 Route 9P in the Town of Saratoga constitutes a dumping ground within the meaning of Chapter 216 of the Town Code, and it is further
RESOLVED, that the aforesaid building shall be demolished and removed, and the property shall be cleared of all refuse and debris on or before April 20, 2007, and upon the failure of the owner to accomplish such work, the Town of Saratoga, by its agents or designees, shall cause the demolition and removal of the building and of any and all rubbish and debris, with the cost thereof, including legal expenses, to be levied as a tax lien against this property by the Assessor.
A motion to adjourn at 8:54 p.m. was made by Councilman Michael McLoughlin
and seconded by Councilwoman Betty Koval. Supervisor Thomas Wood – aye, Councilman Fred Drumm – aye, Councilman Charles Hanehan – absent, Councilwoman Betty Koval - aye, Councilman Michael McLoughlin – aye. Carried 4 – 0.