By Rick Murphy
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Enough is enough.
After years of enduring power shortages, cesspools overflowing, and huge potholes, residents of the East Hampton Mobile Home Park asked East Hampton Town Councilman Dominic Stanzione for help.
This week, after meeting with tenants once again, he delivered. The town notified landlord East Hampton Associates LLC that it is violation of the Town Code, stating in a letter from town attorney John Jilnicki that the park "has not filed for an annual permit in many, many years."
Stanzione said the town "wants the owners to come before the town board." He said the town fire marshal and safety officer are going to inspect the park. "They are now in violation."
The action came none too soon for beleaguered residents, who were dealing with yet another electric service outage last week.
The LIPA situation is the last straw. "We're out now, and about a month and a half ago we were out for more than two days," said Edie Smith, a resident. "It's constantly on and off, on and off. My mom is on oxygen – she's afraid to stay here."
The park is owned by RHP Properties in Farmington Hills, MI, a subsidiary of Newbury Management Inc. The company is the largest owner of mobile home parks in the country.
Smith said the landlord is "a slum lord." Other residents complain they have been subjected to annual rent increases, making it difficult to make ends meet. "My rent goes up and up. I'm on disability. I'm not going to make it anymore," Smith said.
"Once we notify them of the violations we can move to the second phase," Stanzione said. "There are fines attached – up to $1000 for each violation. We can take them to court."
The noose seems to be tightening on RHP, though ever so slowly. State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and State Senator Ken LaValle attended a meeting hosted by the tenants last year and vowed to monitor the situation.
A call to RHP was not returned by press time but Joseph Carbone, the Regional Vice president for RHP, defended his company's maintenance record in an earlier interview. He acknowledged the antiquated cesspool system is an ongoing problem but said his company addresses complaints quickly. He said in May his company was taking bids to shore up the potholes and that work would be done in the fall. This week tenants said they haven't noticed any improvement.