Town Rousts Squatters From Zombie Home

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Nassau County Police Department officers aided the Town of Oyster Bay in removing illegal tenants from this house on South Windhorst Drive in Bethpage. (Contributed Photo)

Not all zombie homes are boarded up, deteriorating structures.

Some have people living in them.

The Town of Oyster Bay recently took action against squatters and illegal renters at a house on South Windhorst Drive in Bethpage. According to the town, the house is currently in foreclosure, and the owner reportedly lives out of town and was issued a summons.
According to Marta Kane, a town spokesperson, the owner did not show up at the last court hearing.

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said that the town’s Quality of Life Task Force—co-chaired by Councilman Louis Imbroto and Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr.—took action with an assist from the town’s Code Enforcement Bureau following neighbors’ complaints about what the town called “a potentially dangerous situation.”

The complaints led code enforcement officers to investigate and they discovered, according to the press release, “frayed and exposed wiring, exposed and leaking pipes, holes in the roof and other dangerous circumstances. An order to vacate was issued to protect public health, safety and welfare.”

Officers were aided by a cooperating tenant who was vacating the house and let them in. Nassau County police officers aided the town in removing the occupants.

Earlier this year, the town enacted stricter zombie home ordinances that, according to the town, “fine property owners and lending institutions in violation of Town Code; recoup costs associated with town maintenance of vacant properties; and ban the use of plywood in covering residential windows and doors.”

Lending institutions must also deposit $25,000 into an escrow account to recompense the town for any maintenance or clean-up of a property.

The updated code also strengthens the authority of inspectors “to investigate, identify and rectify quality of life concerns caused by vacant and abandoned properties which cause eyesores in our neighborhoods,” according to Imbroto.

“Cases like these almost always come down to cooperation from the tenant/owner,” said Kane. “In this matter, one of the tenants permitted us access to the property, which is how we were able to cite all the violations.”

There are approximately 120 zombie homes in the town.

Saladino noted that “Oyster Bay is rated one of the best places to live in America, thanks to our suburban quality of life. When it comes to preserving the suburban integrity that attracts residents to the area, we take all concerns seriously and thank the public for serving as our second set of eyes and ears in the community.”

Added Imbroto, “The Quality of Life Task Force has achieved many successes in addressing issues facing our communities, including the removal of squatters and demolition of dangerous vacant homes.”

“Absentee and neglectful landlord scenarios often create potentially dangerous situations,” said Altadonna. “Our Town Quality of Life Task Force is ridding communities of blight and working diligently to protect and preserve the suburban character of our communities. No community should be weighed down by squatters, dangerous illegal rentals, and rundown houses that pose a hazardous situation to surrounding homeowners.”

The Task Force also focuses on “illegal business signs, noise, and unlicensed and uninsured contractors and landscapers.”

To report an issue call code enforcement at 516-624-6200.

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Frank Rizzo is a journalist at Anton Media Group. With decades of experience in the industry, he is exceptionally equipped to cover local politics, business and other topics that matter to readers.

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