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Police: 'Chemical Substance' Sparked Sycamore Circle Smoke Scare

Though police say there is no hazard to nearby residents.

What was originally reported as a fire in a rental home on Sycamore Circle early Thursday morning turned out to be a situation involving an undisclosed chemical substance, according to Suffolk County police.

According to a detective sergeant who works in the narcotics division of the Suffolk County Police Department, said police are trying to identify the substance but that there is no hazard for nearby residents.

The 911 call came in at 1:40 a.m. as a fire, and a police spokesperson said two officers were taken to the Stony Brook University Hospital for smoke inhalation. Suffolk police also said the arson section is investigating.

The detective sergeant said the house was occupied by several students, including Stony Brook University students and a Dowling College graduate student. He said the resident of the room in the house where the smoke came from was not home at the time of the incident.

Town of Brookhaven records show that the house has an active rental permit.

Patch will update this story as more information becomes available.

Jenny December 07, 2012 at 02:09 AM
this is certainly a huge concern to public safety since the home owner is no longer white, even though, all tenants are remain white. your kids are great, even they are attending a community college, it doesn't hurt the fact. but other people's kids should be banned from living in your society, coz these kids don't go TVCSD with the same amount of tax paid with you.
Smokestack Lightning December 07, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Did you really mean to say because the homeowner is no longer white? Even though tenants remain white? Can you clarify that statement? Because I can't imagine what you COULD have meant by that.
LivingSmall December 07, 2012 at 05:05 AM
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/story/2012-04-03/us-homes-lure-chinese-buyers/53977638/1 "Some lawmakers also see foreign investment as a way to boost the U.S. housing market. Legislation proposed last fall by Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, would let foreigners get a three-year resident visa if they invest $500,000 in U.S. real estate, including $250,000 for a primary home. They'd have to live at least 180 days a year in the property and pay taxes here." Way to go, Schumer. Have the Chinese come in, scoop up houses, live in them for 180 days, and then go about their merry way with a 3 year resident visa and from day 181 on an investment rental property. I'm seeing an increase in Asian-owned rentals in my little pocket of Stony Brook. IN all fairness, they are renting to quiet, Asian students who are pleasant tenants as opposed to the 150 Christian Ave party animals. Nonetheless, instead of homes populated by families, we are seeing a shift to an increasing transient population.
EG December 07, 2012 at 07:05 AM
He was a great pediatrician. I don't think I ever had to wait more than 2 minutes in his waiting room for my appointments.
Thirty Year Resident. December 07, 2012 at 12:02 PM
All of you must be new to the Three Village area. There has always been rental properties in the area. This is nothing new it's been the norm since the 1970's and 1980's when I was a kid growing up on Manchester La. in Stony Brook. Now I live in Setauket and there are still rental properties. Half of you sound ignorant and the other half sound racist.
KT December 07, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I think people are getting frustrated with the situations at hand. It is increasing becoming a more inherent problem with rentals. Unfortunately, I purchased a house here sixteen years ago and it was a non-issue for my family. Four years ago a slumlord purchased the house next door to me in the “S” section. He has four other rentals with the same state of affairs. Unfortunately, he now has proper rental permits. He was fined previously, but that was a slap on the wrist. Note: the old town code would not allow this. I don’t understand why it was changed. The slumlord has been renting it to college students. It has been a nightmare and living hell. Financial, I can not afford to move; otherwise I would in a heart beat.
John December 07, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Been living here for way more than thirty years, and I can tell you that rentals were NOT the norm in this area. Most of these houses were built in the mid sixties to early 70's. The university at that time had about 2000 students. I don't think the homes were built and became rentals within ten years. There are alot of eldery widows and widowers that are selling these days, and are being snapped up for extremely cheap prices and rented out. Some rentals are advertised in local newspapers in the city.
Vilhelm December 07, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Another example of the fine neighbors stony brook university are. Students making crystal meth and starting fires. It's only going to get worse. Guess we should all sell now or wait for the bottom to drop on our home values...
Jenny December 07, 2012 at 02:12 PM
rentals certainly have brought us some problems, for example, cars parked off street, and less caring yards. rentals also brought incomes to elderlys, reduced empty houses, and stablized real estate prices. i think we could find ways to fix the cons and keep the pros. to those who define foreigner by skin color, you should inform obama...
Sycamore Senior December 07, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Race or pigment has no bearing on this. The issue with "foreign" ownership is that they are often unreachable in case of a problem. Many of us long-time residents have no problem with responsible landlords, but many of these new owners buy the house, rent it, collect the rent, and forget it. Many of the homes are being purchased as investment properties by foreign banks through real estate agents working in the area. This leads to a situation where when problems arise there is no local landlord or management firm to contact so no amicable agreement can be reached, but instead contacting town code officers, public safety, or the SCPD is the only recourse. In either case, the problem is not the youth or high school of origin of the tenants, but the lack of any maintenance of these houses. Adult tenants can also be guilty of the same issues. Unmown lawns (as long as a lawn lives), unraked leaves, blowing garbage, unrepaired damage are just a few of the visible physical issues. These issues become unresolvable without extended legal action due to the absentee landlord being either unreachable and/or uncaring because their investment is the location and the physical condition of the house is unimportant. Students will rent anything with the right price and proximity to the university. The theory is that when property values rise enough, the house will be sold at a large profit as a "gut-job." So Jenny, don't be so quick to play the race card. Property value is the issue.
Sycamore Senior December 07, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Its not the fact of being a rental, but it is the fact that student rentals lead to too many cars in the street, more cars from too many guests and crashers creating noise, overflowing garbage cans never taken in, unmown lawns, unrepaired damage, etc. in essence creating slum-like conditions which destroy the property values and desirability of surrounding homes. We fought as a community in the 80s to get the town to crack down on these rentals and they did. We still had rentals, but the renters were generally families and responsible adults. We had some recourse through the various codes to force recalcitrant "contactable" owners to toe the line. Brookhaven saw fit during this economic crisis to eliminate most of the codes that protected us from this form of suburban blight. People are putting a great deal of money into their homes once again here in the S Section. They pay a great deal in taxes and they have the right to expect that the town will respect and encourage their investment by preventing opportunistic absentee investors from scooping up "aged-out" home and putting no money into them while waiting for values to go up further. Brookhaven should be working to encouragement the investment here rather than perpetuating the de-stabilization of our neighborhood.
Sycamore Senior December 07, 2012 at 03:19 PM
The good Doctor had a permit to utilize the house as home professional site. If a rental permit exists in their name, it was taken out to help facilitate the sale. This happening more and more often as the new owner who often is not a local resident and, in fact, will never ever see the property illegally uses the permit. Brookhaven just "overlooks" the violation in the interest of promoting property sales. This permit and the town's inaction, particularly in light of this incident and previous complaints to the town of an unlicensed car stored in the driveway, blowing garbage, parking on the actual corner blocking traffic turning right onto Sycamore Circle, etc., is disturbing for two reasons: firstly because it is an obvious site of violation. A 6th precinct sector car or a public safety car can't enter from Sycamore Drive without seeing the applicable violations. Secondly, because Mrs. Petigrow is or was a long-time employee of Brookhaven Town. Is Brookhaven deliberately looking the other way?
SB Resident December 07, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Now hear this Neighbors...this was a METH LAB explosion! This rental house is being used as a drug lab! The so called "resident" who was not home fled the house before police arrived. This is what is going on in our community nextdoor to your own homes. Are you angry yet?
Sycamore Senior December 07, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Do you have any documented confirmation of this as a fact? Meth labs generally give off an obvious odor. The SCPD would have immediately been able to identify it as such, but it would explain all the white un-marked HazMat vans parked there yestreday. Patch, time to investigate this more thoroughly and earn those reportorial kudos. BTW: how much in taxpayer money has this rental home cost Brookhaven and Suffolk County residents? What is the cost of a police officer's pay and benefits to keep a sector car parked there for an officer's entire tour yesterday to monitor the coming and going of people living in the house? Bill the landlord, not the community!
TakeAction December 07, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Marina Wang, Long Island Professional Realty, should be ASHAMED of herself. This house was sold under the pretense of the daughter of the owner and her husband living in the house. They planned on converting the old Doctor's office into ONE apartment, hence the rental permit. All scripted lies meant to make the elderly previous owner feel good about the sale and not screwing her long time neighbors and friends. After closing, the house was immediately partitioned into 6 separate units and rented out. There were 9 unrelated individuals living in the house at the time of the incident. Traffic, noise (firecrackers at 4:00am), garbage piling up and total neglect of the property followed.
TakeAction December 07, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Some Proposals: 1) Due diligence from the town to follow up on rentals. They enforce the grass height of our lawns, how about noticing 10 cars parked in front of ONE house? 2) New law or code: NO absentee landlords. Period. You buy it, you must live here. 3) Enormous tax on more than one rental income per household. Kill the profitability. 4) Variance required for more than one rental per household. Make it the same process as obtaining a building permit; public hearing, plan to code, etc. 5) Do not allow, or highly tax, corporations or foreign banks (e.g. Bank of Beijing) from buying residential zoned properties. New York City effectively thwarted the attempts of Saudi investors from “warehousing” apartment buildings in the 90’s. 6) COOPERATION OF LOCAL REAL ESTATE AGENTS, who LIVE here too!!! If Marina Wang cared about the neighborhood, she never would have agreed to rent to 6 separate tenants.
KMSG December 07, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Now circling helicopter in S section. What's happening to this neighborhood??
Jenny December 07, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Brookhaven Town Hall To Host On-Air Toy Drive Promotion
sman December 07, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Calm down BUTCH!
Sycamore Senior December 07, 2012 at 07:11 PM
TakeAction, I have some questions raised by your post. Was, if the rental permit is in Mrs. Petigrow's name as stated, the permit was taken out in her name as a pre-requisite of the sale? If the "plan" was one rental apartment, wouldn't it fall under the Accessory Apartment permit and code, which requires the owner to live there as opposed to a house rental permit? If, indeed, the house was partitioned into "6 separate units," wouldn't that be a violation in itself? Shouldn't the town be inspecting it now for the possibility of illegal wiring, an illegal second or more kitchen, lack of to-code fire exits for each unit; In essence, compliance to the law? If the permit is still in Mrs. Petigrow's name, what is her responsibility? Shouldn't she have legally notified Brookhaven Town that she no longer owned the house and the permit in her name is void? Will the town look the other way because of her past employment with the town?
Sycamore Senior December 07, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Jenny, In each of your comments you mention "color" as the reason for residents uniting against rentals in our community. This is hurtful because when one employs the race card right off the bat, it has the effect of saying that our concerns have no basis other than race and that you can reject our legimate concerns because of that. It further insults a community that prides itself on its international, multi-cultural composition. We have many families of all races, ethnicities, cultural, and religious backgrounds who are treasured long-term members of our community here in the S Section. These families both own or rent their homes and take pride in the appearance of their home and property. You are right, in a sense, that it is about color; that color is green. The green of money. Those of us who have lived here long-term and who have bought a home here recently are concerned about improving the value of our investments. We are pouring green into the neighborhood. Absentee landlords discussed in this thread are taking green from the renters and are giving back nothing in return. They are, in fact, taking green out of our pockets by having 8-9 people renting in a single house, thereby depressing the property value of surrounding homes. You are the one with the color perception problem, you see it as white/non-white when it is about green. You mentioned Obama, President Obama would be on our side as he once helped organize his community against slumlords.
Sycamore Senior December 07, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Great Post. Some good ideas to consider. Maybe the S Section Circle of Friends should be more involved with this.
Jenny December 07, 2012 at 09:11 PM
I apologize for any words I have used to have stirred concern and caused any uncomfortableness. I have lived at S section for long time, haven't rent my house to any one yet, and don't have the plan to do so. if you are interested, please check how many houses are rent just near the entrance of S section, and how many of them are rent by "foreigners" (as I know, the above mentioned house is the only one). if we selected to treat all landlords the same, I wouldn't have any problem. when i first moved in, i was annoyed by those tenants near by. as time pass by, they are just regular young people, there is no link between them and high criminal rate. rather, those empty houses are more problematical. dear sir, when you talk about those "foreigner" landloards, you blame them for property value slide, then blame them for selling at a large profit as a "gut-job", not sure which side you want to stand, or just depends on what you want to express?
Its Over December 07, 2012 at 09:54 PM
They destroyed patchogue with rentals. They cut up beautiful Victorians and made them boarding houses. The schools have a 50% failure rate.
S Section resident December 07, 2012 at 10:11 PM
FYI. This home was sold to a Chinese Corporation. And, yes, the previous owner has notified the town that she no longer is the owner after she received citations re: the garbage in the driveway.
Sick of Sycamore Circle December 07, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Jenny, Please write in proper English.
Psychiatrist December 09, 2012 at 01:14 PM
LOL, watch your own English, sick man! Letter P in your "Please" should not be capitalized.
Sickmore Circle December 09, 2012 at 01:49 PM
I was interested in this issue and looked up the records. It turns out that it was sold to an American corporation registered with New York State. Further inquiry seems to suggest that foreign corporations are not permitted to purchase residential properties in the U.S.
Sickmore Circle December 09, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Who are they? As an old man, I remember hearing my grandmother talking about the boarding houses and tenantments in Lower East Side, New York City, where she and her family lived after her father immigrated from Ireland in 1863. These same boarding houses and tenements were later occupied by Jews. Now the same thing happens to hispanics in Patchogue! Alas, this is America, where we tend to forget where we come from and we hate later comers.:-)
LivingSmall December 12, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Jenny, The following is a legitimate site that the Patch included in an article months ago. I've included a link and a snippet to show you that foreign absentee landlords are a direct result of SBU's presence. That the group happens to be Chinese, and that those investors live halfway around the globe makes them generally uncontactable absentee landlords who have no idea as to what is transpiring. http://www.stonybrookchina.com/ "REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT IN THE NEW YORK Eventually we would like to grow to include real estate investment anywhere in the US, but for now, we are able to handle the metro NY area. Parents of students going to American colleges find it is smart to purchase a residence near the college their child is attending, especially graduate students. It becomes a long term investment, it gives the student a place to live, it provides income by having the extra rooms rented to other students. The process is a complicated one if a mortgage is needed." Foreign students have parents buying up properties for their children to live in and to bring in income. Are the parents (who chances are still live in their native country) actually doing any sort of vigorous background checks? What do they care? They don't live here. They reap the rental income, we wind up with the detritus.

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