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Property owner spars with Potsdam over code crackdown

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POTSDAM — A village property owner who was taken to court for violating code says the village’s tactics are unfair.

The village is in the midst of a crackdown on property code violations. Scores of residents have received warning letters, but Debra Langevin was one of only two property owners brought to court for their violations.

Court documents said she did not fix chipping paint, a missing window and a missing house number at her 90 Market St. property in a timely matter.

She said she does not know why the village focused on her property, which she rents out, among many run-down houses in the area.

“There are so many houses up there that are in need of so much more than some chipped paint and a missing number,” she said.

According to Village Administrator David H. Fenton, the properties that had been brought to court were identified back in 2008 as being perennially problematic.

The village has agreed to drop the case against Ms. Langevin as long as she continues to make the requested renovations to the house. Painting is nearly completed.

“I think they have essentially complied with everything we asked them to do,” Mr. Fenton said.

Although Ms. Langevin is making the necessary changes, she said the last few years have made her seriously consider letting the property go.

“I think when everything is all said and done you will see a ‘for sale’ sign on the front of the house,” she said, adding that she does not feel the court case was deserved.

“Are we being made examples?” she asked.

According to Mr. Fenton, the targeted properties have been an ongoing problem in the village, but the threat of legal action has prompted action.

The other case was brought against Jeffrey J. James, who owns 7 Pine St.

He was charged with violating the code for having chipping paint, unrepaired eaves and trash stored behind the house.

The case is still ongoing, but if Mr. James makes the needed repairs, it is possible his case might be dropped, according to Mr. Fenton.

“I have been told he may be working towards some of the issues that are there, so we’ll keep an eye on that,” he said.

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