Plywood covers the windows of an abandoned home in Massapequa...

Plywood covers the windows of an abandoned home in Massapequa on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. A new Oyster Bay law requires the use of polycarbonate instead of plywood on "zombie" houses. Credit: Barry Sloan

The boarded-up eyesores of foreclosed “zombie homes” are set to become a thing of the past in Oyster Bay under a new law that went into effect last week.

The law bans the use of plywood to cover windows and doors in favor of polycarbonate — plastic glass — which is used for “clear boarding.”

Oyster Bay is following in the footsteps of Ohio, which last year banned plywood to board up foreclosed homes.

Homeowners, banks and lending institutions are responsible for replacing the wood, and the town will notify them of their responsibility, town spokeswoman Marta Kane said in an email. If they do not comply, town employees will begin doing it for them with materials that have recently been ordered and will charge them.

“The town strengthened the law to address quality of life concerns caused by dilapidated and vacant homes in our neighborhoods,” Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said in a statement. “Together with residents and local civic associations we are taking back our neighborhoods by cracking down on code violations and holding absentee landlords and lending institutions accountable.”

The town did not provide statistics for how many homes could be affected by the new policy. Last year, the town board approved cleanups, boardings or adding the cost to property tax bills for cleanups nearly 100 times, according to Newsday’s database of board agendas.

The new law also requires banks that foreclose on homes to deposit $25,000 to cover any costs to the town to clean up or board up the property.

The impact of vacant and abandoned homes can affect property values of neighboring homes. A publication of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2014 on vacant and abandoned homes said that vacant homes can depress the sales price of nearby homes by as much as 8.7 percent.

“Research links foreclosed, vacant, and abandoned properties with reduced property values, increased crime, increased risk to public health and welfare, and increased costs for municipal governments,” the publication said.

The problem became an issue during the election last year at a meet the candidates event sponsored by the Breezy Point Civic Association in Massapequa, which called attention to boarded up homes on Clocks Boulevard. Oyster Bay Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr., who addressed concerns at that event, said it’s been a goal of the administration to work with the civic organizations on the problems.

“For hardworking people that pay their mortgages, pay their bills, work very hard and their homes are their largest asset to have to come home and either have a house adjacent to them or across from them in disrepair is very disheartening,” Altadonna said in an interview last week.

Property cleanups/boardings in Oyster Bay

The Town of Oyster Bay authorizes property cleanups, boardings and assessments of the costs to property tax bills via resolution. This shows the number of resolutions, not the number of properties. Some properties may have more than one resolution.

  • 2017: 95
  • 2016: 64
  • 2015: 57

Source: Newsday database of Oyster Bay town board resolutions

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