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Inspection official denies targeting activist

No one has been more outspoken about cleaning up run-down homes in Cedargrove Heights than Joan Adams.

She has led protests against absentee landlords and pleaded for more housing inspectors. Last year, Adams and other residents beat back a developer's proposal to demolish the 60-year-old neighborhood to make way for new housing.

So when properties she manages got caught in a sweep of housing code violations, she wondered if it resulted from her activism. Adams said a Town Board member asked her to keep track of buildings in the neighborhood that need improvement. After she sent the list to the town, she said, she received notice of 18 violations on buildings she manages.

"Does this seem like they're picking [on me], or is it just me?" she said. "If we deserve a violation, that's fine with me. That's all I'm trying to do for the area is clean it up."

Thomas Adamczak, supervisor of building inspectors, said no one is singling her out.

He said the properties Adams managed had not been repaired after receiving previous citations. As part of a renewed push to clean up Cedargrove, all housing inspection files are being reviewed, he said.

"All those that have been previously cited are getting a final notice prior to court action," Adamczak said.

Adams said she knows the properties she manages need some work but the violations, such as painting trim, cannot be remedied in winter.

"If you're going to get me for painting that, we got a building over here that's been sitting for years and needs paint," she said. "They never pick on the big slumlord."

Not so, said Adamczak. He said town officials met with the largest landlord late last year to warn that, unless the properties are fixed up or torn down, the town will pursue the matter in court.

"Prior to all this being brought up, we had not had an inspector assigned to that area exclusively. We do now. That's all he's doing is Cedargrove," Adamczak said.

The town also is preparing to enforce a state law requiring inspections of multiple-unit dwellings every three years.

"We're going from one end of Cedargrove to the other," he said. "We're going to look at all exteriors whether it's been looked at before or not."

Adams sent the town a letter explaining the repairs will be done when the weather clears, and Adamczak said her file, like others in that situation, will be set aside for several months while the repairs are made.


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