Home at 734 Roanoke Avenue, left, where landlords rented to at least 16 adults and three children, according to court documents. Right: Home at 430 Union Avenue, being used as “at least eight (8) separate and distinct rental dwelling units.” Photos: Peter Blasl

The Town of Riverhead has settled two State Supreme Court actions brought against Southampton investors for maintaining illegal, overcrowded residential rental properties and have been “in and out of Justice Court” for multiple town code violations, including renting without permits.

Settlement of a third case against the same investors is close to being finalized, according to Town Attorney Erik Howard.

Agreements in each of the three actions require the defendants to pay civil penalties of $20,000 — for a total of $60,00 — remove existing tenants, correct existing violations and refrain from renting any of the properties without first obtaining the required rental permits.

Lyle Pike at unsafe structure hearing re Courthouse Restaurant on Nov. 4, 2015.

Lyle Pike is an owner of each of the three properties, located at 734 Roanoke Avenue, 769 Harrison Avenue and 430 Union Avenue. Gary Pike is an owner with Lyle Pike of 734 Roanoke Avenue and 769 Harrison Avenue. Southampton attorney Joseph Salvi is an owner with Lyle Pike and Gary Pike of 734 Roanoke Avenue. Salvi is also representing Lyle Pike in the actions.

According court documents, the three properties all have multiple Riverhead Town Code and International Property Maintenance Code violations over a period of years, with potential civil penalties of at least $100,000 apiece.

“Lyle Pike has been in and out of Justice Court for rental permit violations and other building code and property maintenance violations for at least six years,” Howard said in a phone interview Friday afternoon.

According to court documents, the property at 734 Roanoke Avenue, a pre-existing two-family residence that dates back to before the town adopted a zoning code in 1965, was purchased by the defendants in Mach 2004. The property has been occupied by at least 16 adults and three children, with no rental permits. The two-family residence, a two-story structure, has seven bedrooms, some built without permits within common living areas of the home, and the detached garage has an apartment on the second floor and one “makeshift bedroom” on the ground floor. The bedrooms were separately rented out to individual tenants. One resident acted as “house manager” and collected rent from the various tenants and paid the owners “at least $6,000 per month.”

The property at 769 Harrison Avenue (outlined in red.) Image: Google Maps

The property at 769 Harrison Avenue, consists of a single-family home, a detached garage and an “illegal modular structure,” according to court documents. It was purchased by Lyle Pike and Gary Pike in June 2005. It has been rented to at least seven individuals without any rental permits. In addition, code enforcement officers found multiple instances of electrical wiring not in conformance with the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code and the International Property Maintenance Code, as well as numerous other violations. The illegal modular structure, placed on the site without permits, was illegally divided into two separate dwelling units, according to court documents.

The property at 430 Union Avenue, a two-story, single-family home, was purchased by Lyle Pike in September 2002. It has been occupied by four known adults and “several unknown adults and children” since at least Nov. 25, 2019, according to court documents. There have been no rental permits issued for the home, which is being used as “at least eight (8) separate and distinct rental dwelling units.” In addition, Riverhead code enforcement officials also found numerous violations of New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code and the International Property Maintenance Code, according to the filings. Town officials observed eight bedrooms constructed throughout the home being used as habitable space for sleeping purposes in violation of town code.

Earlier this year, the town settled an illegal rental case brought in State Supreme Court in connection with a house at 14 Rabbit Run. The property owner paid a civil penalty of $5,000 in that case.

Deputy Town Attorney Danielle Hurley has prosecuted the cases.

Howard said he’s happy with the outcome of these cases, which take a lot of time and effort to prepare. When he was appointed town attorney after his predecessor and former boss, Bob Kozakiewicz, resigned, he decided to have two deputy town attorneys split code enforcement cases, sharing both the Justice Court calendar and the Supreme Court litigation.

“I think it increases the capacity for each of them to work through the cases, and allows us to do more of these Supreme Court cases,” Howard said. When there’s one attorney handling these cases, scheduling gets difficult, he said. “So I think breaking it up this way, it’s been a really effective way of approaching the code enforcement cases,” Howard said.

He noted that when he joined the town attorney’s office as a deputy in 2017, there “maybe 20 dockets” on the Justice Court calendar every week. Now, there are typically 40 or 50 cases on the docket each week. That’s because the Town Board has hired more code enforcement officers, Howard said, increasing the office from two to five officers. The police department is also writing more code violations, he said. “And we’ve increased the fire marshal’s office as well.”

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor and attorney. Her work has been recognized with numerous journalism awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She was also honored in 2020 with a NY State Senate Woman of Distinction Award for her trailblazing work in local online news. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.