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119 violations documented at Towne Gardens

City housing inspectors turned up at least 119 code violations during a three-day blitz last week at an East Side apartment complex, a representative of which recently told The Buffalo News he was unaware of any complaints about conditions there.

Ten inspectors conducted 259 inspections at Towne Gardens on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Inspections Department officials told a panel of city lawmakers Tuesday.

The inspectors moved in on the Clinton Street complex after Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen publicly questioned conditions of the units, which are managed by Platinum Management Services of Brooklyn.

The owner of the 360-unit, federally subsidized complex is Towne Gardens LLC.

Pridgen characterized the activity as "some progress" and hailed the work of inspectors in Commissioner James Comerford Jr.'s department.

The inspections performed included reviews of individual units as well as of common areas of buildings in the complex, which includes row houses and apartments, said Louis J. Petrucci, assistant director of housing and property inspections.

The department wrote 119 violation letters, and each includes at least one violation, Petrucci said.

Inspectors were denied entry to an unspecified number of units, and no "apparent violations" were found in 38 units, he said.

As part of his review of the situation, Pridgen found Towne Garden LLC also owes the city more than $700,000 in unpaid water bills.

Late last month, Moshe Feldman of Platinum Management Services told The News he visits the complex "every couple weeks, and the place looks great."

Of the overdue water bills, Feldman previously said there were "questionable fees and overages."

Tuesday, Feldman characterized most of the violations as minor, and he reiterated in an email that "all complaints that are received are addressed right away."

The most recent inspections were initiated by Pridgen "apparently to advance his personal agenda, as it is clear that the allegations are without merit," Feldman wrote.

Pridgen has said residents of the complex feel pressured not to complain about problems because they may face eviction as retaliation.

When told of Feldman's comments Tuesday, Pridgen said standards may be different in Brooklyn, compared with Buffalo.

"What he thinks are 'minor' are 'major' for people who are paying their rent and expect the landlord to take care of the property that they own," he said in an email. "Why won't the landlord come to the Council? Why won't the landlord have a meeting with all of the tenants?

"I have no agenda here other than the tenants' living conditions."

Inspectors will head back to check on the conditions noted in each of the violation letters. The amount of time given to remedy the problem depends on the seriousness of the violation, Petrucci said.