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Residents forced to leave Lockport condemned Lockport apartment building

LOCKPORT – Residents of a Robinson Road apartment building condemned last week by the Town of Lockport will be out of their homes until their landlord makes repairs, Deputy Supervisor Patricia Dufour said at Wednesday’s meeting of the Town Board.

Residents of 6315 Robinson, a 24-unit building owned by Jia Lin Rong, of Kenmore, went to the meeting to complain about being ousted from their apartments on the night of July 30 with no notice and only a few minutes to leave.

Resident Shane Storms said, “I have no family. I have to sleep in my car.”

“We had 15 minutes to pack up and get out,” Jenny Falsetti said. “There’s no apparent problems with the building. It’s all locked up.”

But Dufour said there are plenty of problems with the building.

After the meeting, she gave reporters a copy of a notice Chief Building Inspector Brian M. Belson sent last week to Rong.

Violations included mold, the apparent result of a flood in the basement; a lack of working smoke alarms; staircases that appeared to be ready to collapse; fire doors off the hinges; and broken windows not repaired with tempered glass.

“The building is an atrocity,” Dufour said after the meeting.

During the meeting, she did not share specifics but told residents, “The building inspector has filed a report, and there are numerous violations of health and safety.” Dufour added, “We had just cause to do it. The building inspector did what he is paid to do.”

Town Clerk Nancy A. Brooks said the state building code requires immediate evacuations of buildings where such violations are found.

Taniu Staten, one of the residents, said this is the third consecutive year 6315 Robinson has been condemned.

“Last year it was Aug. 1. This year it was two days before Aug. 1,” Staten said. But he asserted that Belson is singling out their building for harsh treatment.

“If he can come to our building, he can come to the Woodlands, too,” Staten said, referring to a nearby mobile home park. He said it looked to him like the building had been searched, saying his couch was overturned.

“He put us out in the rain,” resident Robert Snell said of Belson. “I’m sleeping on my aunt’s floor. I want to go back to my place.”

“I’m sure that as soon as the landlord makes the necessary repairs, you’ll be invited back to your place,” said Dufour, who added that some residents have been allowed back inside to retrieve property.

Dufour said four new staircases are to be installed today and work is underway to replace the drywall in the basement.

Rong could not be located to comment Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated matter, Councilman Paul W. Siejak said a contractor hired by the Niagara County Sewer District will begin work this morning on repairing a broken 24-inch sewer main that serves part of the town.

Although the broken main is actually on the Pendleton side of South Transit Road, in the driveway of Mike Smith Buick, Siejak said the service area is in Lockport, bounded roughly by the City of Lockport border, Robinson Road, Beattie Avenue and the Home Depot plaza on South Transit Road.

Siejak said the broken main is buried 18 feet beneath the surface.

On another topic, Siejak said work will start Friday on removing asbestos-containing exterior shingles from a long-abandoned house on Beattie Avenue, across from Charles Upson Elementary School.