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Two court cases so far in Potsdam code crackdown

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POTSDAM — The village’s crackdown on property code violations has resulted in two pending court cases, with more expected in the next year.

Jeffrey J. James, who owns 7 Pine St., was charged with violating the code for having chipping paint, unrepaired eaves and trash stored behind the house. Debra Langevin, of DJ Realty, Massena, was cited over chipping paint, a missing window and a missing house number for the property she owns at 90 Market St.

Both cases were filed with the Village Court last month and are still pending, after both owners had received warnings that were ignored.

According to Village Administrator David H. Fenton, the case against Ms. Langevin will be dropped, as she has agreed to make the repairs needed to bring her house back up to code.

Village Code Enforcement Officer Larry J. Colbert and newly hired Code Enforcement Technician Gregory Thompson are about one-third of the way through a complete sweep of all village properties in search of violations.

Dozens of notices have been sent to homeowners, with more expected as the search continues.

“Just about every property has something that needs to be improved,” Mr. Fenton said.

While they are part of the village’s code-enforcement crackdown, the two pending lawsuits are not tied to the ongoing sweep, Mr. Fenton said.

“These are properties that we identified back in 2008 as troublesome properties,” he said.

Mr. James pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, and is scheduled to reappear next month in Village Court. He could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Fenton said more cases will likely be coming next spring as the full property sweep draws to a close.

“I think you will see more of these cases as we go forward,” he said.

The sweep was started to clean up the village and spur action among owners who typically neglect their properties, Mr. Fenton said.

The last two years have been chaotic for the code enforcement office. Timothy J. O’Brien was fired as code enforcement officer after less than a year on the job, and is suing the village, alleging he was terminated unfairly. He was replaced by Kevin Brostek, who quit after a month and was replaced by Mr. Colbert. It took Mr. Colbert several months to receive the training to do his job fully.

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