Thursday, April 21, 2016

Town removes plane from resident’s Oceanside, New York, driveway

Hal Guretzky stands in front of the Cessna he keeps at his home in Oceanside, New York.

Hempstead Town crews on Thursday removed a single-engine private airplane parked in front of an Oceanside home after the owner was cited for repeated violations of town codes.

The wings of the plane in Harold Guretzky’s Yale Street driveway were removed and its body taken to the town’s storage facility after the Hempstead building department earlier this month cited “the potential danger presented by the storage of a plane in a residential neighborhood.”

Town officials have been seeking to remove the plane since July, after neighbors’ complaints about the 24-foot-long Cessna and radio towers he attached atop the home. The town’s building department reported the violation “deems the storage of a plane unsafe.” The radio towers also were said to be unsafe.

Guretzky, 70, was told to remove the plane by April 19 or face seizure by the town and removal of a radio tower. Town officials said Guretzky was served with several notices of violation, which were posted on his home and sent by certified mail, warning of the possible removals.

The town’s commissioner of engineering’s office cited high winds earlier this month that the report said lifted the plane 3 feet off the ground while it was tied down. The storm also toppled one of the radio towers.

Guretzky, reached Thursday by phone, said he was driving in Wyoming on his way back to New York from California and was unaware of the plan to remove the plane. He said he had asked his lawyer to seek a stay of the order until he returned.

Guretzky said his plane was protected by the Federal Aviation Administration. He also said he was prepared to sue the town over the seizure of the plane.

“I wish I was there,” an irate Guretzky said. “Why should they bother my poor little airplane? Don’t mess with this old fart. If I have to protect my property, I’ll do what has to be done.”

Guretzky’s Garden City-based attorney Marc Ialenti said he was unaware the plane was being taken apart and argued the town needed a judge’s order.

The town filed a complaint April 5 in Nassau County District Court to remove the plane, citing violations for unlawful storage of an airplane without a permit and having an unauthorized radio tower. A hearing was adjourned Tuesday and rescheduled for May 12.

But town officials said the hearing will continue. They said they were able to seize the plane without a court order because it posed an immediate danger of “uplifting, falling, collapsing or causing damage and injury to the occupants and/or adjacent property,” as stated in the engineering report.

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