YORKTOWN, N.Y. – A town-initiated lawsuit has prompted a cleanup of an abandoned home on Garden Lane, years after the home was set ablaze by the property owner’s son.
In November 2013, Curtis Delano Jr. set fire to the home while his mother was inside. The house was destroyed but Delano’s mother made it out safely. The man, then 54 years old, is believed to have then walked to A.J.’s Bar and Grill, less than a quarter-mile away, where he discussed the crime with other patrons, who tipped off police. Delano pleaded guilty to fourth-degree arson in February 2015 and, three months later, was sentenced to two to four years in prison.
Shortly after the fire, Delano’s parents abandoned the property and its two buildings—a main house and accessory structure—fell further into disrepair, according to a lawsuit the town filed in March. The lawsuit was filed with the New York State Supreme Court in White Plains months after the town served the property’s owner with dozens of town code violations.
Because the property was abandoned, the town said it was the mortgage holder’s responsibility to maintain the property. Included in the lawsuit was years of emails between Town Code Inspector Jason Zeif and various mortgage service companies requesting the situation remedied. The town claims that many “empty promises” were made but no action was ever taken prior to the lawsuit.
Due to its proximity to the Cedar Pond Condominium Complex, the town claimed the structure presented a health and safety problem to nearby residents, especially children. There were also hazardous materials on the property, such as an oil tank.
Recently, the mortgage holder, Federal National Mortgage Association, contracted Kevin Fraioli of Yorktown to demolish the accessory structure and remove debris. The cleanup process started last week. Town officials believe the main house, though damaged, can be rehabbed.
Additionally, Federal National Mortgage Association has commenced a lawsuit to foreclose on the property, according to Town Attorney Michael J. McDermott. He said the bank should acquire title to the property in the near future, “at which time the parcel will be sold to someone who will rehab the site.”
Town Supervisor Michael Grace was pleased with the cleanup, calling it a win for Yorktown. He said the town has “tried to be aggressive” in forcing the cleanup of eyesores.