The city is close to filing what will be the first court action against a zombie property under the states new law, Chief Code Enforcement Officer Mark Domenico told the Common Council at a work session Wednesday evening.
Rome has a $150,000 state grant to assist with these zombie properties vacant and abandoned homes that are not maintained during a prolonged foreclosure proceeding.
The grants were awarded under theZombie Remediation and Prevention Initiative, which the Office of the Attorney General established in mid-2016. The initiative coincides with the 2016 passage of the Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act.
Among other provisions, that law requires banks to register any properties abandoned by their owners with the state Department of Financial Services and to maintain those properties during the foreclosure process, and not just once the process has been completed.
The money is meant to address housing vacancy and blight by bolstering municipalities capacity for housing code enforcement, for tracking and monitoring vacant properties, and for legal enforcement capacity to ensure banks and mortgage companies comply with local and state law.
Banks face significant fines for non-compliance up to $500 per day per violation. The state is sharing the registry with localities and runs a toll-free hotline for individuals to report such properties.
The city is working with the Rome Main Streets Alliance to review all houses that could qualify under the law, dwellings with between one and four units.
What defines a zombie property? One that is vacant and has been delinquent on mortgage payments for at least three months.
The Alliance is going property by property through the city to build a master list. It is going ward by ward, and has completed the first two of seven wards. The Alliance has two research assistants going around with a checklist of indicators of zombie properties such as accumulating mail and unkempt lawns.
The initial list is approximately 380 vacant parcels citywide identified by Code Enforcement. There has been no research yet into ownership status, noted Alliance Executive Director Michael Brown, but that will be an aspect of the groups future research.
Brown said this project is important for the Alliance, which has been working with the Mohawk Valley Land Bank since its inception.
Downtown economic development is an important issue for the Alliances national leadership, he said, and for the local group. If we dont have people living in our downtown who can afford the various things we want to do we wont be able to develop the downtown.
Brown noted that the Alliance as a non-profit entity has leeway to do things the city cant. The group can advocate to large banks to donate zombie properties to the Land Bank or the citys Real Property Committee for rehabilitation. In some cases, banks have already donated parcels to the city, sometimes even adding money for future property maintenance. The Alliance can also lead dialogue with the community about state programs offered to rescue these parcels including those for homeowners to save them before they become zombies.
The council had several questions about the process. The attorney general can prosecute these cases, but so can the citys law office. Which will it be? Domenico said thats still being discussed but would likely be done by the city. When asked if the administration is in full support of the effort, Domenico said it is.
In addition to the potential court filing, the citys real property committee has announced a new list of properties that are available through its tax foreclosure process. The city will receive proposals on the properties, which include a variety of parcels from single-family residences to vacant commercial parcels.
Any person wishing to buy these city-owned properties is required to submit a completed proposal form for the property and meet any minimum bid requirements. The applicant must demonstrate sufficient financial ability to carry out the terms of the agreement.
The properties include:
The following vacant parcels are also available, the minimum bid is listed in parenthesis:
New London Road (no street number listed, $2,500); Oswego Road (no street number listed, $3,000); 501 Turin St. ($1,000); 824 Erie Blvd. W. ($2,000); 113 Kossuth St. ($500); 724 S. James St. ($500); 635 Parry St. ($500);
122 E. Embargo St. ($500); 500 S. James St. ($500); 118 Henry St. ($500); 702 S. James St. ($500); 700 S. James St. ($500); 308 S. George St. ($500); 913 W. Court St. ($500); Edwards St. (west side, no street number listed, $500); 900 Elwood St. ($1,000); West Thomas St. (three separate parcels, no street numbers listed, $1,000; $1,000 and $6,000);
210 Henry St. ($1,000); 112 E. Bloomfield St. ($500); 118 E. Bloomfield St. ($500); Taberg Road (no street number listed, $500); 906 W. Court St. ($500); Panesi Avenue (no street number listed, $500); 108 Arsenal Sq. ($500); 301 McRae St. ($500); Taberg Road (rear, no street number listed, $500);
1806 N. Madison St. ($500); 716 Laurel St. ($500); 701 Highland St. ($500); 327 Fairfax St. ($500); 409 N. Madison St. ($500); 412 W. Liberty St. ($500); 122 E. Embargo St. (rear, $500); 144 River St. ($500); 143 1/2 River St. ($500); 151 River St. ($500); 109 1/2 River St. ($500); 308 Canal St. ($500);
216 Depeyster St. (rear, $500); 318 Lawrence St.($500); Proposed New St. (no street number listed, $500); 7173 Taft Ave. ($500); Greenfield Road (no street number listed, $300); Lorena Road (no street number listed, $5,000); Old Oneida Road (no street number listed, $10,000) and 109 Myrtle St. ($500).
For a viewing schedule of selected parcels, proposal requirements and additional information, go online to http://romenewyork.com/real-property-committee/
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City set to file first court action against ‘zombie property’ – Rome Sentinel
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