By Anna Gustafson
St. John’s University students are illegally occupying a number of homes in Jamaica Estates and Fresh Meadows and the individuals in one such house recently held a raucous party that frightened the elderly residents in the area, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) said.
Padavan sent a letter last week to city Department of Buildings Commissioner Ira Gluckman in which he said there are at least 11 houses illegally inhabited by college students and he called for DOB officials to strictly enforce city rules that prohibit more than three unrelated individuals from living in the same household unit.
“Many of the illegal occupancy complaints for the houses that I reported to you go back for years,” Padavan said in the letter. “The owners of these homes have long histories of ignoring the law, creating conditions that place our young people at risk, overpopulating our community, overtaxing our resources, and destroying the quality of life for their neighbors and community in general.”
Padavan said he has been contacted numerous times by residents upset with their younger neighbors, and the senator said that on Sept. 26 students “illegally residing” at a house on Charlecote Ridge in Jamaica Estates held a party that upset the area’s older residents.
The state lawmaker wrote in the letter that “in the early hours of the morning, approximately 75 to 100 young adults, most of whom were St. John’s University students (many of whom were drinking) became rowdy, noisy, and created a major disturbance awakening the neighbors, terrifying many of our senior citizens, and requiring the police to disburse the crowd.”
Padavan, who reported an illegal occupancy by St. John’s student a year ago at that location, said DOB officials have not sufficiently investigated his complaint. According to DOB records, city officials tried to inspect the house Oct. 16 and Oct. 24, but were unable to gain access.
Dex Khan of Mountainside Company, the landlord for the Charlecote home, said there are seven students living in the house.
“They are all quiet and respectful,” Khan said. “Sometimes they’ll have parties, but the parties will be quiet.”
The Bellerose legislator said he has filed complaints in recent years with the DOB about residences on Aberdeen Road, Midland Parkway, Chevy Chase Street, Dumfries Place, Chelsea Road and Grand Central Parkway in Jamaica Estates and 181st Street in Fresh Meadows, but the city has failed to issue violations despite too many people living under one roof.
“You can’t rent out the house and make it virtually a dormitory,” Padavan said.
DOB spokeswoman Carly Sullivan said the city has “performed multiple inspections or main inspections attempts at each building cited in the letter.”
Sullivan said the department tried numerous times to enter the homes, but inspectors cannot “force their way in” to issue violations.
St. John’s spokesman Dominic Scianna said the university holds students accountable for their behavior on and off campus.
“While St. John’s does not have direct control over students residing in non-university housing, our Community Relations, Public Safety and Student Affairs offices work and communicate frequently with neighboring community groups to monitor and investigate complaints of this nature,” Scianna said.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.