Of­fi­cials con­sid­er­ing zom­bie build­ing law

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By William J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

Of­fi­cials will re­view op­tions for deal­ing with zom­bie prop­er­ties banks fail to keep up af­ter a mort­gage holder de­faulted.

TOWN OF UL­STER >> Town Board mem­bers plan to re­view op­tions for deal­ing with zom­bie prop­er­ties that banks fail to keep up af­ter a mort­gage holder has de­faulted.

The prob­lem was dis­cussed dur­ing a meet­ing last week, with res­i­dent Lois Smith say­ing there are se­cu­rity prob­lems at her home be­cause an ad­ja­cent house has been aban­doned.

“As time pro­gresses that fore­clo­sure has gone from ... in­di­vid­u­als say­ing they’re from the bank and they have to be there to in­di­vid­u­als just show­ing up and re­mov­ing items from this house, which re­ally isn’t none of my con­cern ex­cept for when they try to gain ac­cess into my home, which is an ad­join­ing town home,” she said.

“I had to put up video cam­eras and I’m con­cerned about my child,” Smith said. “Thank God I do have great neigh­bors who do help out keep­ing an eye on ev­ery­thing. Just re­cently some of the other bank peo­ple came with three in­di­vid­u­als in a mini-van and ... they tried to get into my side of the home.”

Smith told board mem­bers po­lice have been called on sev­eral oc­ca­sions but con­di­tions of the aban­doned house is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing.

“The door doesn’t lock, the win­dow is open, the mold is grow­ing and there’s rats that have been re­ported,” she said. “There’s wa­ter that’s back­ing up to my unit now be­cause of the way that drainage is be­ing over­run by leaves and I need to main­tain it my­self.”

Su­per­vi­sor James Quigley said the town build­ing in­spec­tor will con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and at­tempt to con­tact the bank about mak­ing re­pairs.

“In this case we have ev­ery right to ... is­sue them a sum­mons and bring them into court for hav­ing an un­se­cured premises,” he said. “We will take and pur­sue ev­ery course of ac­tion nec­es­sary to get this sit­u­a­tion ad­dressed.”

Board mem­bers plan to re­view the type of code re­vi­sions that would be needed to keep aban­doned prop­er­ties from fall­ing into dis­re­pair.

“There are other in­stances where we’ve had prop­er­ties that have not been main­tained and the Town Board has ... au­tho­rized the town Highway De­part­ment to cut the grass and clean up the out­side,” Quigley said. “We take the costs of those ser­vices and then add them to the tax bill.”

Town at­tor­ney Ja­son Ko­vacs said there will be a re­view of a state law that goes into af­fect Dec. 20.

“I be­lieve that the towns have a lit­tle more power now to com­pel banks to fix prop­er­ties that are va­cant,” he said. “It looks like a good law and we’ll see if we can use it.”

Quigley said the town may avoid use of penal­ties re­cently adopted by Kingston city of­fi­cials to deal with aban­doned build­ings.

“They piled on with all th­ese charges for va­cant struc­tures,” he said. “I think what they’re go­ing to end up do­ing is mo­ti­vat­ing some peo­ple to tear struc­tures down rather than pay the fines.”

The city reg­u­la­tions re­quire a prop­erty owner or mon­tage holder to pay an­nual fees of $1,200 each of the first four years of a va­cancy, $5,200 for the fifth year, $6,200 the sixth year; $7,200 the sev­enth year; $8,200 for the eighth year; $9,200 the ninth year; and $10,200 the 10th year.

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