by Susan Mikula Campbell
The Town of Niagara Town Board was fighting mad Monday at a show cause hearing on a vacant property linked to a local junkyard owner who is delinquent on his taxes.
At the hearing was David Mataisz, owner of Dave's Auto Wrecking on Delaware Avenue, and his attorney, Tom Caserta Jr. In question was property at 3851 Hyde Park Blvd., where Melinda Mataisz (David's wife, who was not at the hearing) is listed as owner of record.
Town Attorney Michael Riseman led the hearing on whether the Hyde Park Boulevard building should be vacated, repaired or demolished. In March, the building received serious structural damage when a car crashed into its Witmer Road side. Building inspector Charles Haseley said there have been no repairs or requests for permits thus far despite two official notices to the owner and at least two phone contacts.
Mataisz, a Niagara Falls resident, admitted to storing thousands of dollars worth of auto parts in the building and said he didn't know he needed a permit to use it as a warehouse. He and Caserta said a contractor who was contacted to make repairs is interested in purchasing the site for a Laundromat.
In the end, the board agreed to give Mataisz until Sept. 1 to file appropriate permits and make repairs or the building will be demolished.
"I want to see for myself what's inside that building," said an angry Councilman Danny Sklarski.
Sklarski said he wanted to know if Mataisz was running an illegal or unsafe business inside the damaged building that might be a danger to the town's residents or firefighters.
Councilman Robert Clark said two firefighters were injured at a fire in Mataisz' junkyard a couple of years ago.
"The last two major fires in the town were in his scrap yard," said Supervisor Steve Richards, noting that the injuries occurred because fire lanes were blocked.
All agreed that the issue with the Hyde Park property should not have gone as far as Monday's hearing.
Richards said Mataisz owes $11,635 in back taxes on the Hyde Park property, which was purchased from Niagara County for $15,000 several years ago. The back taxes on the Hyde Park property added to the back taxes on the junkyard amount to $118,509, Richards said.
"It costs us thousands of dollars a year trying to chase him down," Richards said. "Not only doesn't he pay taxes, he's a blight on the Town of Niagara."
Mataisz said he was in the process of moving out the items he had stored in the Hyde Park building and insisted the auto parts were metal and therefore not a fire hazard. He said he just received the insurance payment for damage to the building about a month ago.
In other matters:
•The board approved an amendment to the town's sign ordinance. The permit fee for temporary signs at businesses is $250. The amendment puts a 45-day waiting period on the signs and placement is not to exceed 15 days. The current penalty for violations can be up to $250 per day.
•The board approved the surplus sale of its Young Street park property to the Olmsted Center for the Visually Impaired for $187,000. The center plans to build a housing facility for people who are physically disabled.
•The board approved its 2011 insurance policy through the Accardo Agency for $99,756, which Richards said is down $600 from last year.