Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine proposed using vacant zombie homes for affordable housing and converting the town landfill to an “energy park” with solar panels as he was sworn into his fourth term Tuesday.
Romaine, a Republican, said town officials are seeking state and federal grants to buy vacant, foreclosed properties — known as zombie houses — and turn them into homes for veterans and first-time buyers.
The town has demolished about 200 abandoned homes and boarded or cleaned 2,000 more in recent years, Romaine said.
“More needs to be done,” he said in a 10-minute speech after taking the oath of office from acting state Supreme Court Justice James Hudson. “I would much rather restore a house and provide affordable housing to help stabilize a neighborhood than tear down houses.”
A Newsday/News12 Long Island investigation in 2015 found Brookhaven and other Long Island municipalities had spent at least $3.2 million in 2014 to board up and demolish hundreds of abandoned homes.
Romaine said town officials plan to add solar panels and other alternative energy sources to the town landfill in Brookhaven hamlet as they prepare to close the facility in about eight years.
He said town officials are working with PSEG Long Island on plans for a “community solar project” at the landfill that would produce low-cost energy for needy families who live nearby.
Solar panels at the landfill could generate up to 26 megawatts of power annually, Romaine said. Fuel cell power generators at the site could produce an additional 7.4 megawatts, he said. A megawatt powers between 800 and 1,000 homes.
Town officials have fought efforts by private firms to develop solar energy farms for the Long Island Power Authority in Shoreham and Mastic. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last month vetoed a bill that would have allowed the state to buy 1,100 acres in those communities to block the solar plans.
Romaine said he would support efforts by state lawmakers to reintroduce a bill to block those solar farms.
“We don’t have to bulldoze our trees for solar energy,” Romaine said.
Brookhaven’s six town council members and Superintendent of Highways Dan Losquadro also were sworn into new terms Tuesday.