We stood up - spoke out, didn't back down, and won! - The Tai and Adele Aguirre Story

from Scams n Scandals


Our nightmare began back in 1995. After receiving approvals from the local zoning board, Putnam County Department of Health and the town-building department, we used our hard-earned savings and took a construction loan from a bank to renovate our home.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection suddenly informed us that we faced "legal action". Why? Because they said that: "even though your septic is working perfectly, some day in the future that septic could break down so we're suing you now. That's right! They sued us in Putnam County Supreme Court. We realized we would lose our house and our livelihood if we lost this unjust case against us. The NYC Environmental Police began entering our property unannounced and taking pictures. The harassment increased almost daily with letters and phone calls.

They demanded that we submit to them and send them new building plans. They claimed we needed to apply for their approval. But why when all our plans were already public record? They wouldn't listen and we refused to back down. We knew we were right. When you fight, sometimes you have to fight alone. For years we fought alone. The largest city in the world was intimidating everyone. Our Town and County officials wouldn't standup for us or the approvals they gave us.

What is most disturbing is that the city would consider a private home with all of 2 people, 100 miles away, with all the necessary approvals and a certificate of occupancy an environmental threat.

This case was not about environmental protection: it was about making the average citizen a test case in order to control private property.

We had only 20 days to respond to their lawsuit. We worked day and night. We did not have the resources to fight the bureaucracy of NY. We were frightened. We were hurting but we knew we were right. We asked ACLU, and other so-called civil rights legal entities. We were turned down. However, helped by a growing property rights movement, we connected to a prominent legal group Atlantic Legal Foundation in Manhattan, which adopted our case because of its broad legal issues.

Now we were able to challenge the City's attempt to create a potential injury precedent by basing our defense on the real rather than a theoretical, impact of our renovation.

We fought tirelessly to successfully get our story out. We got coverage in various newspapers, TV and radio including The Michael Reagan Show, Curtis Sliwa on WABC 770AM and FOX TV News. After a portrayal of our plight aired on FOX, the City sent correspondence requesting "to meet with the Aguirres to discuss possible resolutions to this matter."

Yes, we succeeded in forcing the City of New York to capitulate and drop their legal action. So why all these years of harassment and waste of taxpayer money? Maybe our experience and victory will help someone else. So don't give up!


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