In the ongoing fight against illegal apartments, the Town of Huntington is proposing a change that would give possible code violators less time to hide evidence.
The proposed amendment would strike the requirement that the Town provide written notice to the homeowner when seeking an administrative search warrant.
"Public safety has had too many instances when a property owner, upon receiving written notice, gets the tenants out, takes out the illegal stove, removes doors and then calls for an inspection," Town Attorney Cindy Mangano said Tuesday. "As soon the inspection is completed, the illegal apartment is back in. And we know that because the neighbor's call back soon after and tell us the apartment's back in."
Councilwoman Susan Berland added that the current law puts the town at a disadvantage.
"No other town makes you send a letter to the person saying, 'by the way, the judge said we can get a search warrant and come in since you won't let us,'" said Berland. "So let's agree to a future date when we can come in and work together."
Catherine Giuffre, of Dix Hills, spoke against the amendment at a public hearing and said it could be used to encroach on her constitutional rights to private property.
Mangano said it would not be a violation of constitutional rights and that the decision to issue a search warrant would ultimately be up to a judge.
"It is only if the owner fails or refuses to grant an inspection and we have reasonable cause to believe there's a code violation, then the town will go forward with the search warrant process," said Mangano.