Thursday, September 9, 2010

Neglect & the Mystery Hill Street House

There is a house on the south side of Hill Street which is historic and being neglected. If you were on Corrigan Street and drove south without turning on Hill Street, you would run into this house. It has been quite overgrown and abandoned for some time, probably since 1982, but it dates back to descendants of the Sayre family, original settlers of Southampton in 1640. It may have been willed to the Hospital by the last de Rose owners. The Ickworth Exploration company, whoever that is (whose documents were mailed c/o The Morley Agency, a local real estate company), subdivided the large property into five lots in 1984, but this lot, number three, has been stagnant.

Rather than to elaborate on the history and significance of the Sayre family relative to Southampton Village, and the consequential significance of this structure, I’d like to discuss neglect. Neglecting one’s property to the point where it is falling down or easy to prove a hardship to rehabilitate is effectively “demolition by neglect” and there are many other municipalities which have adopted codes penalizing this action, or lack thereof.
The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation says, “Demolition by neglect is defined as the destruction of a building through abandonment or lack of maintenance.” The City of New Orleans says, “The term “Demolition by Neglect” refers to the gradual deterioration of a building when routine or major maintenance is not performed…..A building is also identified as “Demolition by Neglect” if it is open to entry by vandals or vagrants.”

Neglect is contrary to the State’s Environmental Protection Act. In addition “a number of other states have laws specifically addressing demolition by neglect. South Dakota’s statute gives localities the power to prevent demolition by neglect by enacting an ordinance that makes willful neglect of a historic property a misdemeanor.”[1] The City of Goldsboro, North Carolina implemented codes which required the owners to repair the structure, and “in the event of a finding of economic hardship, the finding may be accompanied by a recommendation to relieve the economic hardship. This plan may include, but is not limited to, loans or grants from the City or other public, private or non profit sources, acquisition by purchase, changes in applicable zoning regulations or relaxation of the provisions of this section sufficient to mitigate the economic hardship.”

Just like one is not permitted to keep their car up on blocks on their property, or allow their property to become overgrown or hazardous to anyone’s safety, they should not be able to abandon their real property – meaning the property and all structures and/or improvements on it – so that it is in an indefinite state of disrepair and is left to deteriorate. This is yet another section of our Village codes that needs changing.

Baby steps.

Property Owners (incomplete):
Ickworth Exploration NV, Liber 9364 of deeds, page 104, 5/26/1983
Southampton Hospital Association, Liber 9262 of deeds, page 506, 10/28/1982
Rose de Rose, Susan Rose de Rose, Susan Varnum de Rose, Liber 1728 of deeds, page 19, 8/8/1933, and Liber 2036 of deeds, page 528, 4/22/39
Edward de Rose, Liber 692 of deeds, page 460, August 1909
Emmett & Alice M. Sayre
Capt. Francis Sayre, as per Town Records, book 6, page 236
Francis Sayre, as per Town Records, book 6, page 236
Elias Culver, as per Town Records, book 6, page 236
Jesse Culver, as per Town Records, book 6, page 236
Ichabod Cooper, as per Town Records, book 6, page 236

[1] Demolition by Neglect, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation

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