Sandy victims hit with citation over downed tree

A downed tree rests against the house of Rosanne and Joe Cavaliere in the Queens borough of New York in this handout picture provided to CBS New York station WCBS-TV.
WCBS-TV/Handout picture

NEW YORK Residents in one New York City neighborhood are crying foul after they were written up for failing to clean up the city's own mess in another new complication in the lives of those affected by Superstorm Sandy, CBS New York station WCBS-TV reports.

Rosanne and Joe Cavaliere of Fresh Meadows, Queens, are still trying to clean up from the storm.

They have branches through their roof, busted front windows, and, to add insult to injury, they recently received a citation notice from the city.

"It makes me angry, but it also is ridiculous," Rosanne Cavaliere said.

(Scroll down to watch a report from CBS New York station WCBS-TV)

They received the notice Nov. 9, cited with "failure to maintain" their property.

But as they pointed out Tuesday night, it's a city tree that they were waiting for the city to remove.

"It was over two weeks before someone came and removed it from the house, and we were patient enough, you know, for that, but then to just be slapped with a violation," Joe Cavaliere said.

The city's Department of Buildings said the citation is a mere formality. It's a way to keep track of all downed trees.

But the Cavalieres said it's a permanent mark on their property that they want removed from the records.

"They're not only upset, they're insulted. And they're nervous, they're scared. They don't know what's going to happen as a result of having this violation," said Elaine Young of the local neighborhood association.

Buildings Department spokesperson Ryan Meredith FitzGibbon released the following statement:

"We have been working closely with property owners as they prepare to rebuild, and part of our process is documenting the damage that has occurred. These violations do not carry any monetary penalties, and if any homeowner has a question, please call 311," the city's non-emergency, information number.

But that explanation didn't fly with the Cavalieres.

"I want the violation off my house, off my record, and all our neighbors," Rosanne Cavaliere said.

The Department of Buildings said, for now, the citations will stand, but the Cavalieres said they'll continue to fight to get them removed.

State lawmakers have sent letters to Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri demanding the violations be withdrawn.