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Sandy Victims Being Hit With Downed Tree Violations, LIPA Fees
Victims of Superstorm Sandy are being ticketed for fallen trees on their properties and are being charged for “delivery fees” by the Long Island Power Authority for returning their power.
While the neighborhoods shattered by Hurricane Sandy are far from being back to normal, the faceless bureaucratic mechanisms of the City and the Long Island Power Authority seem to be kicking back in. Homeowners are being ticketed by the DOB for fallen trees on their properties, and LIPA is charging customers a “delivery fee” for returning their power, even though it was out for weeks—mainly because of the utility’s incompetence, reports the Gothamist.
As the New York Times put it, ”the storm struck the city’s trees like a chain saw on methamphetamines,” knocking down more than 8,000 in the street and many more in parks. In Queens, homeowners with downed trees say that the DOB is handing out violations that warn that they could face legal action if the trees aren’t removed.
WNYC reports that LIPA is tacking on a delivery fee of more than $10—something ConEd and other utilities in the region have refused to do. “I’m flabbergasted,” a LIPA customer in Northport says. “I just don’t understand why they think it’s necessary.” More than half of the 86% of LIPA customers who lost power were without it for more than a week. LIPA will be refunding customers who were billed for “estimated” usage, but is sticking by the fee, calling it “the very minimum it costs LIPA to provide a 24/7 connection to the electric system.” A spokesperson tells WNYC that the charge will be discussed at a meeting on Thursday.
Rosanne and Joe Cavaliere of Fresh Meadows, Queens, are still trying to clean up from the storm. They have branches through their roof, busted front windows, and, to add insult to injury, they recently received a citation notice from the city. They received the notice Nov. 9, cited with “failure to maintain” their property. But as they pointed out Tuesday night, it’s a city tree that they were waiting for the city to remove.”It was over two weeks before someone came and removed it from the house, and we were patient enough, you know, for that, but then to just be slapped with a violation,” Joe Cavaliere said. The city’s Department of Buildings said the citation is a mere formality. It’s a way to keep track of all downed trees. But the Cavalieres said it’s a permanent mark on their property that they want removed from the records.