Ready to take next step on ‘zombie’ property – Gloversville Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE The city is readying to take the next step towards launching a new program to seize and turnaround abandoned zombie properties by preparing legislation to form a real property review committee to procedurally determine how any acquired properties should be disposed of.

The Common Council in September began discussing a new potential tactic to address blighted properties in the city by taking legal action under a section of state Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law allowing the title to an abandoned residential property to be conveyed to a municipality through a special proceeding.

Under the law, the city could potentially seize and then dispose of residential zombie properties that have been abandoned by both the homeowner and the mortgaging bank due to the lenders disinterest in paying property taxes or providing maintenance. The law only applies to residential properties.

The city only plans to use the law to take title to these homes if a private individual or organization can be identified to subsequently assume ownership of the property with a plan to rehabilitate or demolish the structure depending on its condition.

The Common Council on Tuesday discussed the mechanisms the city will need to have in place to conduct these procedures to formally address how any acquired properties should be disposed of.

City Attorney Anthony Casale explained that forming a standing real property review committee would provide the city a body to set a policy and procedure for disposing of any properties acquired by the city. The committee would have authority to review any proposed property dispositions for possible referral to the Common Council to consider ratifying the transfer of property from the city to the interested individual or organization.

There will be a greater demand and need to address how the city will dispose of city owned real property. The idea of having a disposition committee is to formalize the procedures upon which that will be done, said Casale. This way there would be a procedure so it would be referrals made to the Common Council.

Casale, Mayor Vincent DeSantis and City Assessor Joni Dennie discussed the possible composition of the committee ahead of the council meeting and recommended it be comprised of five city officials; the councilman-at-large, the city assessor, the building inspector, the Community Development Agency officer and one additional member of the Common Council.

The Common Council signaled their support to Casale to draft legislation to modify city code to create the new real property review committee for formal introduction at the next meeting later this month.

DeSantis noted that the city has already identified two abandoned properties that officials are hoping to begin proceedings to acquire in the near future.

Were hoping to start on a couple of those pieces of property now and it would require a committee to set policy as to how those would be disposed of. Thats why we thought a standing committee would be the best, said DeSantis.

DeSantis previously identified the properties the city plans to test the acquisition law on as 6 W. Eighth Ave. and 21 N. McNab Ave.

City officials have already determined that the West Eighth Avenue property would require demolition due its poor condition. If the city is able to take title to the multi-family home, Century Linen owner Richard Smith whose city-based location abuts the deteriorating residence has reportedly informed city officials of his willingness to take title to the property to raze the building. It is unclear if Smith has any plans to use the property or merely plans to clean up the neglected site.

City officials say the McNab Avenue property appears to be in sufficient condition to allow for its transfer to an individual interested in and capable of renovating the property to bring the home back on the tax roll and eventually resulting in its re-occupancy. No individuals or organizations have yet been identified to take ownership of the property from the city if it is successfully acquired.

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Ready to take next step on 'zombie' property - Gloversville Leader-Herald

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