Farmingdale mulls property maintenance law

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Farmingdale officials hope a proposed property maintenance measure modeled on one passed last month by neighbor Massapequa Park will "make the slumlords clean up their houses," Mayor Ralph Ekstrand said Thursday.

The proposed law would mandate that property owners keep lawns clipped, hedges trimmed, windows repaired and water collection sites drained -- or face steep fines.

Farmingdale is to hold a hearing on the proposal on Aug. 6 at village hall.

Homes in the foreclosure process are a target, Ekstrand said, as banks often fail to regularly maintain the yards and fix the facades.

As in Massapequa Park, some Farmingdale properties have become so blighted that wild animals occupy them, residents said.

Andrea Roos, a 20-year Farmingdale resident, testified at a village board meeting last month that raccoons had infested an abandoned home being foreclosed on her Staples Street block. Reached Thursday, Ekstrand said, "The raccoons became aggressive enough to start eating at the house next door."

The process of enforcing maintenance in the past has been cumbersome when foreclosure isn't complete and neither the banks nor the village is permitted to access the property to clean it, Ekstrand said.

Existing laws allow the village to trim hedges that interfere with drivers' lines of sight, but "we can't go on the property," Ekstrand said. "This law will give us the right to go onto the property."

If homeowners fail to respond to notices to tidy up, the village would, under the proposal, clean up the properties and bill the homeowners for the work.

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