MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Boarded-up eyesores known as zombie homes are getting a new look.
Plywood is going coming down, and clear plastic is going up.
Broken, boarded windows are a telltale sign of a an abandoned zombie home. Throughout the tri-state area, they attract vandals and squatters.
In Massapequa, neighbors count as many as 50 eyesores dragging down property values.
Gaetine Hodnett lives next door to one such home. After complaining to the town of Oyster Bay, her local government responded with a first for Long Island.
The town has passed a law banning the use of plywood to cover windows and doors. Instead, owners and banks will have to use clear boards made of polycarbonate.
The clear boards, mandated elsewhere in the nation, bring light into an abandoned house and keep criminals out.
“It looks better, it doesn’t look like a neighborhood is in shambles, it respects the residents, and it allows up an opportunity to keep it safe while we are going through the legal process to have it torn down or force the owner to comply.” Oyster Bay Town Supervisor, Joseph Saladino said.
“You drive past and it looks like someone is living there, just see the clear windows,” Carol Gordon, Breezy Point Civic Association said.
It’s the same material used in airplane windows, and is practically indestructible, but also more expensive — more than 2.5 times the cost of plywood.
Supervisor Saladino said the new law also requires owner banks to put $25,000 in escrow to pay for clear boarding, grounds upkeep, and ultimately demolition.
Letters were being sent out to owners who have boards on their windows. They will have five days to rip the boards down and put the clear boards up. After that they could face fines of up to $900 per violation.
Town officials said the use of plywood barriers could still be allowed in certain short-term circumstances, but will have to be painted the same color as the house.
Last year, Fannie Mae required that all of its foreclosed properties replace plywood with clear boards as well.