High winds batter vacant house, cause neighborhood hazard

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – High winds and Buffalo’s wicked weather this week turned a neighborhood eyesore on Humphrey Road in Riverside into a hazard, shredding the upstairs porch and ripping out the windows, dumping shattered glass all over the ground below.

North District Councilmember Joe Golombek said neighbors have been complaining about the property for years, “The owner of the house is deceased, and from what we understand, there is nobody that has taken ownership of it.”

But as of Friday that two-family tenement poses a danger to passersby–Riverside High School is right across the street–there is now an urgency to secure the building.

A posting on the front door seems to indicate the house could be a bank foreclosure–a “zombie property”–but so far, Golombek said city officials’ attempts to reach someone in charge have failed.

“We requested that it be written for Housing Court, but unfortunately if they cannot find an owner of the property–or somebody that is responsible for the property–it puts it in limbo. That is where we are right now.”

Housing Court liaison for the North District Jim Vossler said he has written up the property on multiple occasions, “The indication was, it was being sent to Housing Court. Once it goes to Housing Court, there is nothing more we can do. They have to send it to the Law Department, and this takes time.”

Golombek tried to get the damaged upper floor boarded up, “I am trying to get the Inspections Department over here to do an immediate emergency inspection, and try to get that upstairs blocked off because something is going to come off of there, and if there is somebody walking by, somebody could get killed.”

A short time later on Friday, city inspectors blocked off the property on Humphrey Road, with orange cones and yellow tape to keep passersby away, pending a hearing in Housing Court Monday.

A spokesman for the city’s Department of Permits and Inspection Services said, they are going into Housing Court Monday to get an order to enter the property, and either secure the upstairs porch or remove it.

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