A New York resident returned to his home after being out of town to find an unexpected surprise: his home was gone.
Phillip Williams, 69, had been in Florida since last December for knee surgery. Returning to his Long Island hometown in August, he found an empty lot where his family home once stood. The town had demolished the house in May.
The town of West Hempstead claimed they sent Williams multiple letters after neighbors had complained that the 1920’s house was not being maintained and was in poor condition. Neighbors thought the house was abandoned, according to CBS WLNY.
WIlliams insisted he never received any communication from the town, as he was out of state, and is suing for damages.
“You don’t expect to leave and get surgery and come back to find everything gone,” Williams told CBS, according to the Daily Mail.
“I’m outraged. They shouldn’t be able to do that. This was preventable. It’s unjust and a tremendous disservice to me.'”
Everything on the site was cleared after the demolition, leaving Williams with none of his personal possessions – including his late wife’s jewelry.
Susan Trenkle-Pokalsky, a spokeswoman for the town, said, “Hempstead Town followed all proper procedures with regard to property owner notification relating to proceedings. The structure posed a danger to the public and was taken down in accordance with the law.”
Williams’ attorney said his client had been paying his mortgage, there was no foreclosure and this was “not a zombie house,” referring to the Town of Hempstead’s ongoing plan to clean up neighborhoods, according to CBS.
The town held a public hearing in February to address the home they considered a hazard. But Williams said he never received a notice.
“Somebody could have called me, somebody could have notified me,” said Williams. “But the town, they took everything, it’s just gone.”
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