The Town of Huntington is moving to force owners to register their vacant properties.

A public hearing will be held this afternoon to consider changing the town code to create a registry.

"We realize it becomes dangerous for our first responders when . . . they don't know if people are living in the house," town board member Susan Berland said. "Also, if the property is vacant and is not kept up and ends up on the blight list or ends up in code enforcement, oftentimes we have problems serving process because we don't know who the owner is. "

If adopted, the law will require any property that is vacant for more than 120 days to be registered with the town. The registration is to include a contact name, address and phone number.

"If you are a snowbird and you go down to Florida, that's not abandoning your house," Berland said. "If we get this registry, we're going to give this information to the various departments so they can know which homes in their district are considered vacant."

An annual $250 fee would be part of the law. Berland said if there is financial hardship, owners can seek a one-time fee waiver.

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She said the idea came up after a meeting with the local council of fire chiefs.

Larry Feld, a commissioner with the Dix Hills Fire Department, said he is supportive of the town taking steps to keep first responders safe. "A lot of times you enter a building and there are holes in the floor, a whole mess of things, you just never know what to expect," Feld said. "It will help us out to know if a place is vacant; it's for the safety of all the firefighters."

The hearing will be at 2 p.m. in Town Hall, 100 Main St.