2017-09-07 / Front Page

Owner registration law on vacant homes subject of hearing in Babylon Village Tuesday night

Vacant and abandoned homes like this reduce neighboring property values and could be a cause of health and safety risks. Now, Babylon Village is considering a new law that they hope will get these properties sold and restored.Vacant and abandoned homes like this reduce neighboring property values and could be a cause of health and safety risks. Now, Babylon Village is considering a new law that they hope will get these properties sold and restored.

Babylon Village officials are proposing a new law that would require that the owners of homes vacant or abandoned to homes to register with the Village. The law, which will be the subject of a public hearing at the Village Board’s regular meeting Tuesday night, is designed to give the Village more control over these properties, many of which raise health and safety concerns, as well as reduce property values of neighboring homes.

“This will give us a handle on what is happening with these properties,” said Mayor Ralph Scordino in outlining the intent of the legislation. “Many are in the hands of banks and are not kept up, and we want to do all we can to see that they are fixed up and sold faster.”

Scordino said the timing is right since real estate values are rising, and estimates that there are about 100 homes in the Village that are vacant. “Every day we find another one that is either in pre-foreclosure or in the hands of a bank,” said Scordino.

Other villages have adopted similar laws. In Amityville, the legislation was pushed by Trustee Jessica Bernius who proposed it after hearing complaints by many homeowners who live near these abandoned homes. She said the new registration process has helped move these homes on to the real estate market, and ultimately into restoration.

“What it does is gives us the information we need so that we can put pressure on the owners, which is usually a bank,” she said. “We have had a lot of success with it.”

Most of the homes are languishing following the economic downturn of the 90s when the owners could not keep up with their mortgage payments. The foreclosure process takes years, and now many are in the hands of the banks that held those mortgages. But their response to moving forward to fix up or resell the properties had been slow, said Bernius, adding that the registration requirements gave the Village the opportunity to step in and put pressure on the owners to do the right thing.

The hearing will take place at 7 p.m., Village Hall, 53 W Main St., Babylon.

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