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Staten Islanders Fear Red DOB Placards Mean Loss of Their Homes

By Nicholas Rizzi | November 6, 2012 6:58am

STATEN ISLAND — For residents of Staten Island's beach areas hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, confusion was growing on Monday over Department of Buildings colored placards taped to the front of their homes.

Residents of New Dorp Beach, Oakwood and Midland Beach said they were unsure exactly what the colors of the placards — red, yellow and green — meant for their homes.

"I don't know where we stand," said John Clacker, 53, who had a red placard on his Neutral Avenue home. "Nobody told us anything."

Clacker, whose home was moved off the foundation by the storm, said he wasn't sure if the red sign meant the city would demolish his house or repair it. He worried the house he renovated with the intention of retiring in would be taken away. He wasn't the only one.

"I just built the house," he said. "I know that this house can be salvaged."

The DOB conducted exterior inspections of houses in beach areas and taped placards on their homes depending on the severity of damage, the agency said.

"Our inspectors are inspecting affected buildings throughout the City and tagging buildings with green, yellow or red placards based on their conditions," said Ryan FitzGibbon, a spokeswoman for the DOB. "This is part of the department's rapid assessment process to conduct as many initial inspections as quickly as possible."

Most of the owners of houses deemed unsafe to enter — which received a red placard — knew they had major foundation damage, but feared their houses might be demolished.

However, Fitzgibbon said the red signs were not a demolition order, it just meant the home needed repairs before residents could return.

The different colored placards mean:

  • Green — No restrictions and no apparent structural damage.
  • Yellow — There are restrictions, the property is damaged and specific entrance instructions are placed on the home.
  • Red — The building is unsafe to enter and the property is severely damaged.

Fitzgibbon said that DOB workers have been trying to tell residents the red sign wasn't a demolition order.

Some homeowners near Cedar Grove Avenue said they knew the red sign wasn't a demolition order, but Maggie King, 55, said she had asked relief workers if the house would be salvaged or not, still felt in the dark.

"I asked a bunch of people," King said. "Nobody seemed to know."

But Bobby Schiavone, 53, who lived on Fox Beach Avenue for 60 years, said workers have been good with giving the information about his home.

"Everybody has been good," he said. "No complaints on New York City."

Schiavone, who has a red placard on his home, said he doesn't care if his house is demolished or not. He's more upset about the loss of friends.

"I lost good friends who died," he said. "It's a shame."