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Noyac House Where Fatal Fire Occurred Lacked Rental Permit

Thu, 08/11/2022 - 12:39
Jillian Wiener, 21, and Lindsay Wiener, 19, died in an early-morning fire at this house in Noyac on Aug. 3.
Christine Sampson

The house at 3 Spring Lane in Noyac where two young women died in an early-morning fire on Aug. 3 lacked the permit required under Southampton Town code for property owners who rent out their houses, the town confirmed this week.

The owners will be summoned to Southampton Justice Court, where an arraignment is forthcoming, according to Sean M. Cambridge, an assistant town attorney.

"I can confirm that this was an unpermitted rental home, and that there will be charges filed against the homeowners," Mr. Cambridge said by email on Tuesday. He could not release any details as to the charges, he said, because "there is still an ongoing investigation."

Southampton Town has had a rental-permit requirement since 2008. Permits generally cost $200 and must be renewed every two years, though the fee is waived if a property is rented full time to a tenant whose income falls into established low, moderate, or middle-income categories.

According to the town code, the permitting process requires an application showing floor plans, an up-to-date certificate of occupancy, an agreement for the removal of trash by either landlord or tenant, and "written certification from a licensed architect or licensed engineer that states that the rental property fully complies with all of the provisions of the code." In the absence of the latter, the town is authorized to inspect the property before issuing a rental permit.

Permits are issued only if "such rental property would not create a nuisance to an adjoining nearby property," according to town rules. Permits are not issued to properties where violations of New York State's rules for building construction and fire safety have been found.

The Building Department did find one such violation last year, said Ryan Murphy, Southampton's head of public safety and emergency management. More details on that citation, which came in via the town's online complaint system, were not available by press time. The online system handles hundreds of inquiries each year, Mr. Murphy said, adding that it currently holds 93 reports, either in progress or newly received.

The victims of the fire were Jillian Wiener, 21, and Lindsay Wiener, 19. Southampton Town Police said last week that they had been sleeping in upstairs bedrooms but were unable to escape the fire. Their brother, Zachary, 23, leapt to safety from a second-floor window.

Zachary and his parents, Lewis Wiener, 60, and Alisa Wiener, 52, were treated at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries from smoke inhalation.

A 911 call came in at around 3:30 a.m. after Lewis Wiener was awakened by the sound of breaking glass, police said. Firefighters from North Sea, Southampton, East Hampton, Bridgehampton, and Sag Harbor arrived to find a house already engulfed in flames.

According to Zillow, the 1,600-square-foot house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and was built in 1991. It sold in May 2016 for $999,000. The house is surrounded by tall hedges on a busy corner where Spring Lane and the bustling Noyac Road meet, just north of the Long Beach Road intersection. 

Southampton Town tax records show it is owned by Peter Miller and Pamela Miller; efforts to reach them this week were unsuccessful.

This story has been updated since it was first published to correct the date of the fire.

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