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Hearing set for 'nuisance' houses

Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer is pictured. (April

Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer is pictured. (April 27, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

Town of Babylon officials plan to hold public hearings Tuesday on whether two homes should be declared public nuisances.

The two houses -- at 86 Columbia St. in West Babylon and 1224 August Rd. in North Babylon -- each have been the site of at least two arrests in the past year.

The town's public nuisance law dates back to 1994 when, to combat crack houses, legislation was passed that allows the town to hold a hearing to determine whether a house is a public nuisance if two or more arrests occur at a site within a year.

The types of crimes for which the property can be cited include drug, prostitution and gang offenses.

Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer, who helped draft the law, said in the current cases, the arrests were drug-related.

The houses, he said, will serve as "exhibit A and B in our campaign to let landlords and homeowners who have houses like this know that we're very serious about the quality of life here in Babylon."

Under the law, the town lets the homeowner know of the public hearing and if the house is declared a nuisance, the town can board up and clean the property and bill the owner. If not paid within a year, the town can add the costs to the property's tax bill.

The town last enforced the law in 1998, on a house in Wyandanch that was the site of multiple arrests for drug-dealing, Schaffer said. It is now home to a church.

"We want to use this law sparingly and for the most serious cases," he said. "Good neighbors shouldn't have to put up with this."

The public hearings are scheduled for 7 p.m. at Babylon Town Hall, 200 E. Sunrise Highway in Lindenhurst.

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