Newburgh residents say absentee developer is putting them at risk

Homeowners along Morris Avenue in Newburgh are paying city taxes, but not getting certain city services, including street plowing.

Ben Nandy

Feb 15, 2024, 12:45 AM

Updated 96 days ago


Homeowners along Morris Avenue in Newburgh are paying city taxes, but not getting certain city services, including street plowing.
The residents have been trying to track down the contractor who built their west end subdivision but did not finish the job.
Now the residents and city officials are in a difficult spot.
Neighbors have been left to clear streets and sidewalks on their own, with their own basic equipment, since the city has never plowed the neighborhood.
The neighborhood's response to Tuesday's storm went much like their response to January's storm.
Both storms dropped more than 10 inches on the city's west end.
The lack of timely plowing has forced several residents to skip work because they cannot move their cars the 400 yards to the nearest plowed street.
Young people have been injured just trying to walk to the bus stop.
"My son has slipped and fallen many times going to school here," one resident said.
City crews cannot plow the neighborhood because the streets have not yet been dedicated as city streets.
State law bars the use of public funds for private roads.
A city spokesperson told News 12 the developer – Iconic Properties of northeastern Pennsylvania – must overhaul the stormwater infrastructure and fix a retaining wall before the streets can be turned over to the city as public roads.
Until then, it would be illegal for city crews to plow there.
News 12 emailed and left numerous voicemails for Iconic Properties owner Dimitri Zahariadis seeking an explanation for the delay and a timeline for completion.
Zahariadis has not responded.
Several residents said they have also been trying to contact Zahariadis.
Some said they had not spoken to him since they bought their homes four years ago.
"Since we closed on the homes and they got their money, it's just like everybody's just gone," one neighbor told News 12.City officials said they last wrote to Zahariadis on Jan. 19, detailing the multiple stormwater violations due to the unfinished work.They have not received a response.The company was hit with stormwater violations in September 2021 and April 2023, a spokesperson said, and a code violation due to a "structurally deficient retaining wall."Mayor Torrance Harvey said the developer is neglecting what is usually an important part of any subdivision project.
"These are safety measures. Infrastructure stuff isn't just for kicks and giggles," Mayor Harvey said during a Zoom interview Wednesday afternoon. "This is for public safety."A city spokesperson said in a statement, "the city is exploring, and is prepared to take, all available legal action against the developer in an attempt to bring the subdivision residents some relief and finality to the ongoing issues caused by the developer."

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