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Sidewalk Repair War Brewing Between Harlem Residents, City DOT

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Street problems have cropped up for people living in Harlem.

They could be fined for not fixing sidewalks in front of their homes, but as CBS2's Meg Baker reported Monday residents said it's the city that should foot the bill.

What would you do if the city issued you a violation for something you believe was the city's fault?

Residents on one Harlem block said they got slapped with sidewalk violations, all because they complained about conditions on their sinking street. The Department of Transportation issued notices to homeowners on 138th Street between Broadway and Riverside, demanding they replace cracked sidewalks -- at their own expense.

"So what they do is any of us who issue a complaint will receive a violation -- so what I have to do is fix what they call the trip hazard," Lois Penny said.

Generally, it is the responsibility of property owners to maintain sidewalks, but in this case residents claim sidewalks cracked due to the eroding street maintained by the DOT.

"There is a spot that keeps on going a little lower and lower. And they come patch it up because someone was complaining when car comes down. There's one a little lower down there," a resident said, describing the situation.

Penny insisted she should not have to foot the bill for her sidewalk. A new concrete slab will cost about $300.

A DOT spokesperson said an inspector checked the block and concluded the problems with the road were not making the sidewalks uneven.

Penny has lived on the street since 1980, and said she has been documenting and reporting the collapsing infrastructure for years.

"Somebody from DOT came by, drove down, her car almost went in the hole. Then she stopped, blocked the street. Then they came out," Penny said.

Sinking patches on the block have been fixed multiple times this year, Baker reported.

Penny was given 45 days to repair her sidewalk. That time has come and gone. And according to the DOT website, in failing to make repairs, a lien will be put on the property, Baker reported.

The DOT said it received six street condition complaints for the street this year, with five of them resolved by the department.

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