On Friday, the town attorney's office, police department and fire marshal's office executed a search warrant for a property located at 331 Hamilton Avenue in Riverhead. County records indicate that the property is owned by Rickey A. Taylor, town officials said.
According to officials , at least 18 adult men were found living in the single family home, with at least five found in an unfinished basement that had been divided into four makeshift living quarters where mattresses, bedroom furniture and other personal belongings were found.
Those living in the basement had been sleeping on beds that were close to heater and boiler equipment, as well as exposed wiring and insulation, officials said.
Investigators also found evidence that some had been living in a detached, unheated garage on the property.
A full slate of violations were observed against town and state building, fire and zoning codes, officials said, including overcrowding, exposed wiring, insufficient smoke detection equipment, inadequate egress paths, conversion of inhabitable space into living quarters without out building permits or certificates of occupancy, excessive litter on the property and lack of rental permit.
The violations represent a risk to the safety and welfare of the residents of the home, as well as neighbors, town officials said.
Sister Margaret Smyth of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate was contacted by code enforcement officials to assist residents with finding new housing.
Attorneys for the Town of Riverhead plan to commence an action against the property owner in New York State Supreme Court for violations of the Town Code and the New York State fire and building codes, at which time the Town will make an application in Supreme Court for a restraining order against the owner of the property to immediately ban the use of the cellar and garage as living areas, town official said.