Judge Issues Temporary Restraining Order Against Village of Muttontown, Allowing Hav-a-home Kennel to Reopen for Business and Resume Servicing Pet Owners

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK — Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC is pleased to announce that a temporary restraining order was issued yesterday against the Village of Muttontown, which prohibits the Village from enforcing a condemnation order that it issued against a family-run kennel that has been in business for nearly a century.

On April 13, the Village ordered Hav-a-Home Kennels, its owner/operator, Patricia Kleber, and her two sisters who also operate the facility with her, to vacate the premises after condemning the building for what the Village deemed was an “unsafe” structure. As a result of the condemnation order, the kennel was forced to immediately shut down and close. Ms. Kleber and her two sisters, all of whom are in their seventies, rely on the income from the kennel to support themselves. Thus, the impact of the condemnation order was personally devastating for them.

The Village maintained that an exterior wall of the structure was unsafe because it was leaning slightly. Ms. Kleber retained a professional engineer, who inspected the kennel and disputed the basis for the condemnation. He found that the slightly leaning wall was not an uncommon feature in a building of this type and age, which was constructed in the 1920s or earlier. He also found that the building was not in any imminent danger of collapse or otherwise unsafe. He recommended a simple repair to the wall. To alleviate any concerns the Village might have regarding the safety of the structure, Ms. Kleber also hired a contractor who installed a temporary shoring wall to further support the structure, and will be repairing the exterior wall in a few weeks.

On May 4, Jon A. Ward, Partner, Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC, wrote a letter to the village requesting that the condemnation order be lifted immediately. After nearly two weeks without a response from Village officials, Mr. Ward filed a civil rights lawsuit against Muttontown Village on May 21, claiming, among other things, that the Village abused its governmental power and violated Ms. Kleber’s constitutional rights to occupy and use the building because the Village did not provide her with any due process (notice and opportunity to be heard) either before or after it condemned the structure. Further, the Village failed to follow its own procedures outlined in Chapter 38 of the Village Code with respect to addressing buildings it deemed unsafe.

After hearing arguments yesterday, Justice Antonio I. Brandveen of the New York State Supreme Court, Nassau County, granted a temporary restraining order against the Village, finding that the condemnation order was causing Ms. Kleber and her sisters to suffer immediate and irreparable harm. The temporary restraining order prevents the Village from enforcing the condemnation order, which will allow Hav-a-Home to reopen and continue its operations while the court considers whether a preliminary injunction should be issued against the Village. The next court date is scheduled for June 24.

“We are pleased to see the kennel open again after it was abruptly closed by the Village,” Mr. Ward said. “This is a third-generation, family-owned dog kennel whose owner has an excellent reputation for the care the kennel has provided to thousands of local families and their pets for decades. Ms. Kleber is continuing to make improvements to the facility, and we look forward to fully vindicating her rights in court.”

Mr. Ward and Ms. Kleber are available for comment. For more information on Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC, call (516) 228-1300 or visit www.swc-law.com.

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About Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC

Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC is committed to providing its clients with the highest quality representation, counsel and advice. Practice areas include zoning and land use planning; real estate law and transactions; litigation and appeals; municipal law and legislative practice; cellular and telecommunications law; environmental, corporate, labor and employment law; tax certiorari and condemnation, matrimonial practice; and estate planning. The firm strives to assist its clients in a wide array of issues, serving them with skill and experience, resourcefulness and responsibility. For more information, call (516) 228-1300 or visit www.swc-law.com.