Property Owner Says He Is doing Nothing Illegal

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Neighbors of a home on Staten Island said it is downright dangerous – plagued with falling debris and infested with mosquitoes and rodents.

As CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported, broken bicycles, bins and garbage piles intertwine with overgrown trees and weeds around the home at 240 Bryson Ave. in the Willowbrook section of Staten Island.

“My grandchildren call it ‘the monster house,’” a woman said.

“Things he just collected — there’s stuffed animals,” a man said. “It’s hoarder 101.”

Neighbors said the house has created more than just an eyesore.

“Rodents, mosquitoes,” one man complained.

“This tree right here is going to fall, but he won’t let anybody on his property,” a woman said.

CBS2’s Doris approached the homeowner, Louis Bonomo, to get some answers.

“It’s all recyclables, no garbage,” Bonomo said.

Doris noted that there were baby carriages and other broken items lying around Bonomo’s property.

“That’s for a friend. That’s it. That’s the only garbage over there,” Bonomo replied. “Everything else is recyclable and perfectly legal.”

Indeed it is perfectly legal. And even though a neighbor reported calling the Department of Environmental Protection, the FDNY, the Department of Sanitation, and “everybody you could think of.” The growing problem persists.

The city will periodically come out.

“But they don’t make him clean it up,” a neighbor said. “He has got so much garbage piled six feet high. He used to put a tarp up.”

The Department of Sanitation said agents clean what they are allowed to. It is limited to weeding the “public space to make the sidewalk passable.”

Despite receiving multiple warnings and violations, Bonomo said most of the time, he does not even pay a fine.

“I tell them what I told you — it’s recyclable,” he said. “It’s not illegal to have recyclables on your property.”

City Councilman Steve Matteo (R-50th) said his offers to help have been denied. He will be pushing the city for action.

“I’ll just try and persuade them to go on the property, take the debris off, and then I think they have to bill him,” Matteo said.

Bonomo said he would not allow any such thing.

“No,” he said. “No one’s coming on my property.”

Unlike suburban towns, in New York City there is not any city agency that can get onto the property to clean it up without the owner’s consent. It is Bonomo’s right to fight every violation issued and refuse entry into his property.

CBS2 reached out to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene about the risks the property may pose to the neighborhood. The department has yet to respond.