MAHOPAC, N.Y.— The Carmel Town Board is ready to fight some zombies.
No, there are no walking dead staggering about the streets of the community. The zombies that the town has declared war on are zombie homes—residences that have been abandoned and left to decay, creating neighborhood eyesores and potentially driving down property values.
The Town Board passed a law last year that allows it to go in and clean up zombie properties if the owners are unresponsive to requests to do it themselves. The town is then reimbursed for the cost, usually when the property is sold.
“The building department has provided us with four properties that are vacant and have not been maintained for several months and we cannot get any response from the owners,” Supervisor Ken Schmitt said at the Town Board’s Sept. 27 meeting. “We’ve made several attempts to reach out to the owners but those attempts have been unsuccessful.”
Schmitt said that Mike Carnazza, the town building inspector, has asked for authorization to hire a contractor to clean up the properties.
“They have been vacant and abandoned for a period of time to the point where they’ve become a blight in the communities where they are located,” Schmitt said. “The town has a property compliance law. Since we haven’t been able to notify them of these code violations, we will have to [do the clean-up] ourselves.”
Town attorney Greg Folchetti said there are several ways the town can get reimbursed for the cost of the clean-up, including placing a lien on the property.
“The building inspector can send an invoice to the last recorded owner for the cost of the clean-up. If it’s not paid within 30 days, it can be turned over to the county for a levy on the following year’s tax bill,” Folchetti said.
Schmitt said there will be more abandon homes that the Town Board will eventually have to deal with.
“These are what have become known as zombie properties and there are more than we would like to have in the town of Carmel but these are four that are in extremely bad shape,” he said. “These properties are all overgrown and in disrepair. The banks may not have taken them back yet, so we need to clean them up. There are more but these are the four that the building inspector is [targeting] for now.”
The four properties that have been cited are: Reda, 66 Orchard St.; Martinez, 39 Colonial Drive; Dilacio, 4 Northview Drive—all in Mahopac; and Facinelli, 11 Meadow Drive, in the hamlet of Carmel. The first two properties on the list need lawn mowing and weed removal and the house secured by installing plywood on the windows and doors. The second two homes need lawn mowing and weed removal.
Councilman Jonathan Schneider encouraged residents to let town officials know when they notice a zombie home.
“If you believe you have a property in your neighborhood that fits the description, let us know so that we can keep this going,” he said. “The only way we get these properties listed is by complaints from citizens.”