Lloyd Building Department Director, Dave Barton described 2020-21 as, “an interesting year for enforcement by my office.” He recently took action against DJ Direct, owner of the former Plasmaco Building, at 180 South Street in Highland.
Barton said it appears the owner is running an Amazon type subsidiary that stocks items that are then picked up by a number of trucks.
“My understanding is those items go to an Amazon warehouse for quick delivery and these locations are popping up all over the country,” he said.
Barton said when DJ Direct took over the building, “they basically demolished the inside of the building.” Plasmaco’s $10 million clean room that was used for making computer boards is gone and the ceiling is now about 30 feet in height.
Barton said the new owner transformed the inside of the building into a warehouse operation without obtaining any permits from his department. The building no longer has working smoke detectors or a sprinkler system.
“Instead of keeping the smoke [detector] heads in place and just moving them higher, they detached them from the wires, which are still hanging throughout the facility,” he said.
When Barton responded to a call from Clintondale Fire Chief Rick Brooks because of a tripped test alarm, he gave them a week to fix the smoke detector system. After the company failed to do so, he placard the entrances, indicting that the building is unsafe and cannot be used.
Barton informed the Town Board that “employees are not allowed in the building and the operator seems to be a little upset about that and I’m sure you may get a phone call; I don’t care. The building in my opinion is unsafe and until I get evidence to the contrary, the warehouse section of the building will remain placard as unsafe,” he said.
About a month ago Barton saw that inside the building pallets were stacked all the way to the ceiling, which by code requires a sprinkler system.
The owner has applied for two permits from the building department, one to install a sprinkler system and a second to put in a working smoke detection system. Mobile Fire Prevention will be doing the needed work to the building.
Preliminary estimates put the cost of a smoke detection system between $15,000 to $30,000 but a sprinkler system could reach $500,000 due to the need for a pumping system and a large water storage tank.
Once completed Barton told the Town Board that he will be looking to see that the proper state authorities have signed off on the work and he will be conducting his own inspection before removing the unsafe building designation and allowing employees back into the building.