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Amityville officials want more power over vacant homes, pol says

Amityville Village Hall in 2014.

Amityville Village Hall in 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

Amityville Village trustees will likely conduct public hearings next month for three laws intended to give officials more power to crack down on owners of derelict or vacant homes, Deputy Mayor Jessica Bernius said.

Under two of the laws, the village would for the first time require registration of vacant homes and notification of foreclosure. The vacant home registry would apply to homes empty for longer than 120 days, probably with an exception for snowbirds.

Registration would cost $250 annually; failure to register would bring a fine of $1,000 to $15,000.

Foreclosure notification would be free for the mortgagee but failure to do so could bring a fine of $1,500. Currently, officials said, it can be difficult to identify and contact the various actors -- owner, mortgage servicer, maintenance company -- that assume responsibility when a home goes into foreclosure.

Village attorney Richard Handler and consulting and engineering firm H2M will review the laws before they go to hearing. H2M’s personnel helped develop Brookhaven Town’s vacant home registry.

The third law would cut the grace period for homeowners’ repairs to buildings officially designated as unsafe from two weeks to one. Once that period has expired, village workers will make the repairs and attach a charge to the property’s tax bill.

Bernius said the registration laws would allow for faster response from village police, building and public works departments. And, she said, they would likely encourage better compliance from the owners of about 40 vacant homes scattered throughout the village, a handful of which are in very poor condition.

“Once we get this registry going, you’re going to have people saying maybe it’s not worth keeping this property, maybe we should see what we can do to fix it up and move it onto the market,” Bernius said.

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