The owner of the Newberry Square building, recently convicted of a code violation for covering its broken windows with flimsy sheets of wood, took steps Tuesday to try to come into compliance with law — by putting up a sturdier type of wood.
Charalambos “Harry” Ioannou reinforced his interpretation of state fire code by installing plywood on the Main Street landmark.
Ioannou was convicted Aug. 6 for violating a property maintenance code. He faces sentencing next Tuesday in Village Court. He plans to appeal but also insists his latest repair complies with state and village law because he plans to make the plywood sheets “secure and weathertight.”
“I’m complying with the law they said I should comply with,” Ioannou said Tuesday.
During Ioannou’s trial, Village Code Enforcement Officer Michael Piccolo testified that a previous repair, using less substantial “wafer board” sheets, had gaps and was not weathertight.
Asked about Ioannou’s latest action, Piccolo said he’d wait to see how the work turns out.
“That wasn’t what I cited him for,” Piccolo said Tuesday.
“If he’s leaving that up permanently, he’s going to have to go to the [village] Historic District Commission for permission,” Piccolo said.
The repair work Ioannou was doing Tuesday did not initially appear to require a permit, Piccolo said. Whether or not he will be cited again remains to be decided, the code officer said.
The approximately 71⁄2-by-91⁄2-foot plate glass windows were broken the night of March 1, and Ioannou covered the empty spaces with sheets of wood generally called wafer board.
Piccolo cited him about 10 days later for violating the state Property Maintenance Code for not repairing the glass and securing the building.
A village jury last week found Ioannou guilty of violating a section of the maintenance code, which requires windows and frames secure, in good condition and weathertight. He was found innocent of violating the section that requires maintenance of glazing materials.
“They’ve been on my butt to replace the glass, not that it was weathertight,” Ioannou said Tuesday.
He said he’d already replaced several windows that had been broken about three years ago.
In addition to broken storefronts, Ioannou said, a couple of third-floor windows were broken last spring.
By removing the broken glass and covering the empty storefront windows with the wood sheets in March, Ioannou has insisted he is complying with the fire code, which requires “temporarily unoccupied buildings … or portions thereof shall be secured and protected.”
Ioannou had a copy of the code with him Tuesday.
Since most of the three-story building is vacant, except for offices used by a Schoharie County ARC program for developmentally disabled people, Ioannou argues that his repairs comply with the law because they prevent access to the vacant areas.
Separate, locked doors lead to the vacant, damaged areas, Ioannou pointed out.
Previous tenants, including a nail-care shop, a tattoo shop and a pizza shop, formerly rented the spaces but moved out before the storefront windows were broken.
“This is not an occupied premises,” Ioannou said.
During the trial, Ioannou’s attorney, Edward Wildove, attempted to present the fire code argument about securing vacant buildings, but Village Justice Richard Hamm refused to let the jury hear that.
Hamm ruled that Ioannou was charged with violating the property maintenance code, not the fire code.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the Newberry Square building’s sole tenant, Schoharie County ARC, was found to be installing a new sprinkler system alarm without the required permit, Piccolo said.
The agency was not cited with a violation. “It was a misunderstanding with the state [inspector],” according to Piccolo.
ARC officials are now in the process of applying for a permit, which includes inspection of the electrical connections, Piccolo said.
Noticing the alarm installation was what initially prompted a visit by Piccolo to the building Tuesday, according to Ioannou. He said his tenant’s lease allows ARC to take care of the alarm, which sounds when fire sprinklers are activated.