City issued summons for hazardous cracked windowsill on sixth floor of building. On March 26, 2019, a Department of Buildings officer observed a cracked exterior windowsill on the sixth floor of a building owned by Aspen Companies on Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. The officer testified that if water were to enter the crack and freeze, a piece of the windowsill would break off, fall six stories, and injure a pedestrian below. Buildings issued Aspen Companies a Class 1 violation pursuant to §28-302.1 of the Administrative Code for failure to maintain a building’s exterior wall and appurtenances.
OATH Hearing Officer D. Follet-Figueroa upheld the summons. Aspen Companies appealed the decision, arguing that while the windowsill was cracked, it was not in danger of falling and thus the condition was not immediately hazardous.
The OATH Hearing Division Appeals Board agreed with Aspen Companies and dismissed the summons. The Board ruled that Buildings failed to establish that the cracked windowsill was an immediately hazardous condition. In order for the cracked windowsill to be a Class 1 violation, it would have needed to pose a threat that severely affected the “life, health, safety, property, the public interest, or a significant number of persons so as to warrant immediate corrective action.” The officer’s justification for designating the violation as a Class 1 violation related to a time eight months in the future when the temperature outside would be frigid enough to freeze any water which entered the crack.
DOB v. Aspen Companies, OATH Appeal No. 1901099 (August 29, 2019).
By: Valentina Gioffre (Valentina is a New York Law School student, Class of 2020.)