Port Jeff currently looking at more than 10 zombie homes
A new intermunicipal agreement between the village and town could mean more zombie homes in Port Jeff may have a larger target on their heads.
At its Oct. 3 meeting, the Brookhaven Town board voted unanimously to enter into an intermunicipal agreement to let town workers assist, if requested, with demolition projects and then dispose of the waste at the town’s landfill in Brookhaven hamlet.
Under the agreement, Port Jefferson would pay the expenses of inspecting the property, demolition and carting away the debris.
In previous meetings, the village identified little more than 10 zombie homes in the village boundaries. These colloquially named “zombie homes” are derelict houses that have slowly started to degrade where the owner is absent. The village’s Zombie Task Force, run by the constabulary, goes weekly to these houses to check in, looking to see if there are vagrants or squatters at the premises and checking for other illicit activity.
Mayor Margot Garant said this will mean shearing costs for the village.
“Tremendous savings for us, because we can just call it in and schedule it, instead of going out to bid and doing everything like that,” she said. “If it works out, it will be great.”
Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said the agreement will mean the town’s engineers that usually inspect these derelict houses, Hauppauge-based Cashin Spinelli & Ferretti, will inspect homes in Port Jefferson upon request and report to the village. Then, depending on the decision by the board after a public hearing, a vote to demolish will mean either Brookhaven employees will demolish the home, or a private company will be contracted in the case where asbestos is on the premises. The area will be cleared, and debris taken to the town landfill. The village will then have to put a lien on the property for any unpaid taxes and for the cost of demolition.
Costs range on average from $25,000 to $40,000, depending on the size and type of home being demolished, according to the supervisor.
“It helps reduce the overall cost of government.”
— Ed Romaine
Romaine said this is just one deal in a long line of 35 intermunicipal agreements between the Brookhaven and smaller municipalities such as Port Jefferson Village for close to a year. The town has made these deals as part of a $20M Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency grant from New York State. Other agreements have included plowing snow in the Village of Shoreham and completing road repairs in the Village of Patchogue.
“We have contracts and things of that nature that they can benefit from, and we’re happy to help with that,” he said. “It helps reduce the overall cost of government.”
Recently the village announced it would be working on two zombie homes, one on Sheep Pasture Road and another at Nadia Court. The former was soon found to be a nearly 300-year-old historic structure, and the village has promised not to touch the property while local historians and New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) work to find ways to preserve it, though the difficulty comes from the owner, Jericho-based Tab Suffolk Acquisitions, not responding to any calls or having a set location.
While the village has not made any move on the property, other than to continue to board it up and monitor for vagrancy, Garant said the village is not willing to pick up the tab for any restoration, citing the costs associated with fixing up the Drowned Meadow House.
“Until you find a full-time [caretaker] for [the house], it’s going to be a big challenge,” she said.
This is just one in a line of intermunicipal agreements between the village and town. Earlier this year the town and village announced a new intermunicipal agreement to consolidate property tax collections. The village has also worked out an agreement over salt and sand between the two municipalities.
The article that appeared in the Oct. 24 edition of the Port Times Record inaccurately reported the number of zombie homes in Port Jeff. We regret the error.