PORT JEFFERSON STATION, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The Town of Brookhaven on Long Island is taking action against rundown, vacant houses.
As CBS2’s Emily Smith reported, leaders are giving homeowners an ultimatum – either they repair the hazardous homes, or the homes will be bulldozed.
One Pequatuck Avenue home is among dozens set to be demolished if it is not cleaned up. Town of Brookhaven officials have deemed to home unsafe and have stamped a notice on the front giving the owner 30 days to make repairs.
“If you live on a street in which you have one of these wrecks; these zombie homes, they just stole from you. They stole $10,(000), $20,000 of the value of your house and every other house on that street,” said Town Supervisor Ed Romaine.
Neighbor Ronnie Montecalvo said the abandoned-looking home on Pequatuck Avenue started going downhill shortly after Superstorm Sandy. Every day since then, he has been fighting to get it torn down.
Town officials told CBS2 the home is privately owned, and uninhabitable.
“I had somebody interested in buying the house and they raised the price considerably, and that was the last I heard about it,” Montecalvo said.
Romaine said the town demolished 53 homes last year. The process is legal and regulated.
“What we do – we just don’t pick a house and say, ‘That house looks ugly,’ and we tear it down,” Romaine said. “We actually have engineers we hire.”
And if a house turns out to be structurally unsafe – a public hearing is held, and finally a decision gets made to tear down the house.
If the owners can restore the property in 30 days, the demolition is called off. Otherwise, the town’s waste management department steps in, spending $30,000 to do it. That dollar amount goes on the homeowner’s tax bill.
Town officials told CBS2 one Maple Avenue home in Port Jefferson Station had been home to squatters in 2015. It too is on the list to be torn down.
“It’s usually homeless people come in the house they stay there, you know,” said David Patton, who lives behind the abandoned home. “And it’s not safe for the neighborhood, and it brings down the neighborhood anyway.”
“This town can look a lot better than it has, and we will do everything to make it better,” Romaine said.
Romaine said the town plans to exceed last year’s 53 homes demolished.