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Village Lists Penalties For New Law

Seeking to eliminate blight on foreclosed home properties

The Village of Massapequa Park’s new maintenance ordinance has been approved by a unanimous vote, one made melancholy with the absence of Harry Jacobson.

The ordinance is now in effect and represents an effort by the board of trustees to eradicate what they claim is a blight on the village by mostly foreclosed homes which have not been properly maintained.

Although the problem is not limited to foreclosed homes, the condition of many of them is the main reason the BOT took action, as they claim that such conditions “pose a threat to the health, and safety of the public [and] to property” within the village.

More specifically, the ordinance requires that surface and subsurface water, plus gutters, culverts, catch basin, storm water sewers and sanitary sewers also be sufficiently drained. It also states that lawns, hedges, bushes, trees and weeds, plus all fences be maintained “in a safe and attractive state.” That includes keeping shopping baskets, carts or wagons in the interior of the property.

The ordinance also calls for proper maintenance of both interior and exterior surfaces, including floors, walls, ceilings, stairs, walkways, driveways and parking areas. Most importantly, it calls for vacant buildings to be maintained, “in a condition that does not present a hazard to adjoining properties, buildings, structures or to the public.”

In short, the ordinance is aimed at blighted property, which also means that no graffiti will be allowed on the structure. Blighted property, according to the ordinance, also includes boarded windows, broken windows, excessive litter or debris, overgrown grass, more than one unregistered motor vehicle, junk vehicles, unfinished construction, damaged trees or limbs, peeling or deteriorated paint, stagnant water, open or unsecured wells, damaged electrical wires, plus the appearance of refrigerators, washing machines, sinks, stoves, heaters, boilers, tanks and similar household appliances.

The ordinance also gives the building inspector the right to determine what factors are contributing to blight. A warrant to inspect such properties is not required when the owner or occupant gives permission or when there is a danger to an occupant’s health or safety following an accident.

As noted, the law went into effect upon BOT approval at the June 11 meeting. The penalties for a first offense include a fine of not less than $250 and not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment not exceeding five days, or both. Penalties for the conviction of the second of two offenses, committed within a period of five years, include a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $2,000 or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 days or both. Finally, for the third conviction, again within a period of five years, the fine is not less than $2,500 and not more than $10,000 or imprisonment, in this case, of 15 days, or both.

Prior to approval of the ordinance, Village of Massapequa Park Mayor James Altadonna, Jr. said that banks or major lienholders of foreclosed properties would be responsible for compliance. He added that in certain situations, especially those where seniors occupy a residence, the village is willing to cooperate with any difficulties. The mayor also said that the banks have been cooperating with the village even before the ordinance was approved.