At the end of Hamilton Place, a quiet street tucked away in South Nyack, sits a house in disrepair with overgrown weeds and some cracked window panes.
Mark Bowen, who lives a couple doors down, estimated the home has been like this for a couple years. In addition to not being easy on the eye, these abandoned "zombie properties" are depreciating the value of homes throughout Rockland and Westchester.
“Once a house gets to a certain point you wonder if it needs to be demolished,” Bowen said on Thursday.
In May, State Sens. Jeffrey Klein and David Carlucci released a report detailing how zombie properties are costing homeowners in Rockland $9.6 million in depreciated home values. A zombie property is the result of a foreclosure process that has been initiated but not completed.
On Thursday they announced that number was down to $6.2 million. Both senators are hopeful the number of zombie properties--207 currently--will continue to decrease as December approaches, when a piece of legislation that will require the banks to maintain these properties will take effect.
“As a parent, I’ve got two smalls kids—growing up living next to a zombie property is just unacceptable. People shouldn’t be forced to do that,” Carlucci said.
Several mechanisms have been put in place to ensure this happens, such as a hotline to report abandoned properties and a registry to track them, which will be maintained by the state Division of Financial Services, Klein said.
"This is something that's been a long time coming," he said.
Additionally, the legislation will provide funds to municipalities to maintain abandoned properties that are in disrepair. A fine of $500 per day can also be levied against banks that fail to such maintain properties.
According to the senators's report, property values in New City, Nanuet, and Valley Cottage have been most adversely affected by zombie properties, and Ossining in Westchester.
“South Nyack will definitely take advantage of this new law to not only protect the health of our residents but the value of their properties,” South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian said. Only two zombie properties remain in South Nyack--8 Hamilton Place and 213 South Broadway.
Meanwhile there are no longer any zombie properties in Nyack. Several years earlier there were 14 to 15 zombie properties in the village before residents like Julie Agoos formed a neighborhood association to deal with them.
These abandoned properties attracted squatters, drug deals, and wild animals until the residents along Summit Street, South Midland Avenue and Washington Street took action and sought ways to compel banks to maintain these homes.
“This bill is not only important, it’s imperative,” Nyack Deputy Mayor Don Hammond said.
Hammond recalled a young family that lived in the village who eventually moved away due to the problems they encountered with an adjacent zombie property, something he said was the village’s loss.
Bowen said there has been no crime or health hazards on Hamilton Place due to the abandoned house and that he was happy something was being done to remedy the situation.
To report an abandoned property, dial 800-342-3736.
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