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Mar 17, 2009 7:34 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Springs resident fined $5,000 for messy yard

Mar 17, 2009 7:34 PM

Springs resident Rian White, whose messy yard led to his conviction on littering charges earlier this year in East Hampton Town Justice Court, was fined a total of $5,000 by Town Justice Lisa R. Rana on Thursday, March 12.

Justice Rana fined Mr. White $1,000 for each one of the five counts he was convicted of in January.

“I really feel as though we extended many opportunities for Mr. White to clean up his property and come into compliance,” Justice Rana said.

After a six-year clash with neighbors, Mr. White was put on trial earlier this year. A jury convicted him of five town code violations, including failing to keep his property free of litter and not having a building permit or a certificate of occupancy for a shed on his property at 11 Hodder Avenue.

Mr. White said he is going to appeal his conviction. He said that evidence had been suppressed during the trial, including the description of an incident in which town workers, who had been sent to clean up the property while Mr. White was present, were unable to determine what to remove and what to leave, and so left the property as they found it.

Three of Mr. White’s neighbors attended the sentencing to tell Justice Rana about their frustrations and anger over the state of Mr. White’s property.

“Since he’s been found guilty, the yard has only gotten worse,” Tim Lee said. “He has not moved one thing, and he put a bathtub and sink in the front yard.”

Through the years, the small lot has also been covered with rusting automobiles, boat propellers, refrigerators, construction debris, tires, piles of chairs, and even a 6-foot statue of a smiling hot dog with arms and legs.

“One of the reasons that my yard is getting continuously worse is I lost any impetus to clean up because I’ve been dragged through this crap,” Mr. White said. “At this point, I don’t even know if I can keep my house.”

Town Attorney Madeleine Narvilas asked that the court include a provision in the sentencing that would waive the fine if Mr. White cleaned up his property within 30 days.

“The town is far more interested in getting the property cleaned up than in money,” Ms. Narvilas said.

But Justice Rana said that the code only gave her the choice of fining Mr. White or sending him to jail. She said she did not intend to jail him.

The neighbors, including Jim Sullivan and Vincent Wolfe, who is the grandson of Mr. White’s next door neighbor, said they were disappointed.

“That house is atrocious,” Mr. Sullivan said to the judge. Because of the unsightly nature of the property, Mr. Sullivan said he had been unable to find a summer renter for his own property for years.

Mr. Lee said that a year and a half ago, he and other neighbors had collected 63 signatures on a petition asking the town to do something to clean up Mr. White’s property.

Mr. Wolfe said that the property has “degraded our community and forced homeowners and families to feel ashamed instead of proud of where they live.” His 92-year-old grandmother is now afraid to leave her home alone, Mr. Wolfe said, because of the piles of garbage, odors and vermin on Mr. White’s property.

Mr. White was not without his supporters. One resident, Stuart Vorphal, was at the sentencing to offer his backing to Mr. White. “Live and let live is gone in town,” Mr. Vorphal said.

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Why are there photos of people? Where are the photos of the root issue, Mr. White's yard, that readers may get a sense of the severity of the problem?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 13, 09 2:19 PM
what a load of crap been around the corner lately take a look at all those vw buses wtf.got a junk yard around the corner and jimmie and vinnie aren't complaining about that looks singled out to me i've been by there and seen a lot worse than that yard.ryan should put his property up for sale and head south.
By pinga (90), hamptonbays on Mar 13, 09 6:21 PM
our neighbor built an ILLEGAL(on our property) addition onto his house &cut down shad trees 25 feet onto our property.the good judge saw fit to let him plea bargain out of it. he was fined nothing for the crimes committed on our property.three years later ,we are still in civil court seeking justice for destruction on our property.maybe mr rian will let me borrow the hot dog with arms so can place it where my neighbor can look at it every day.good luck to mr rian,if you plan to fight ,you will ...more
By montauk resident (41), montauk on Mar 16, 09 10:55 AM
people should take more pride in their homes he should be fined and evicted if mess continues
By dianne (4), springs on Mar 16, 09 11:23 AM
He's lost any impetus to clean up because he's been dragged through this crap.He actually said that. This crap is his yard. He wanted a trial and he got one. Now that he has been found guilty a normal person would have cleaned up, but we're not dealing with that here. The fines imposed will never be paid and the yard will continue to degrade the community. An appeal is just another way to delay doing anything. What needs to be done is for the Town Board to make another resolution and do what they ...more
By maidstoner (2), East Hampton on Mar 16, 09 5:23 PM
Hell, we'll take some of it. It sounds like good stuff.
By we could run this town! (129), wonderful Wainscott on Mar 18, 09 10:16 PM
forget about the fines. Just force him to spend that amount on a big fence, so no one has to look at his big plastic hot dogs.
By nicole (96), Hampton Bays on Mar 23, 09 1:32 PM