Berkeley Eyes Abandoned Homes

Photo courtesy James Byrnes

BERKELEY – Township officials are still dealing with some abandoned homes, hoping that the owners will either fix them up or knock them down.

Between 15 and 20 homes are the focus, business administrator John Camera said. They are throughout the township. There are seven to nine of them east of Route 9, six or seven in Manitou Park, and a few in South Seaside Park.

Photo courtesy James Byrnes

The homes could be abandoned for any number of reasons, but Superstorm Sandy is one of the main culprits. Some of these homes were so significantly damaged that the owners could not afford to fix them. It is possible that some people just walked away from the property.

The problem is that some of these houses are health hazards. They are structurally unsound, and might have breeding spots for mosquitoes, rats, or other animals. Additionally, neighbors think they are eyesores. When people are spending a lot of time and money to make their homes look good – especially after Sandy – the neighborhood is marred by an abandoned home. Further, the town would benefit from a newly renovated house being on the tax rolls.

Photo courtesy James Byrnes

There is a process that needs to be adhered to, officials said. The town can’t just condemn the property and demolish a home. The homeowner has to be properly notified. There’s also a hearing.

Township planner James Oris said that if a resident started the process, the building permit can be renewed every six months. This hampers the town’s options on these homes.

Glen Cove resident Jerome Bolletieri said that many of these were houses were Sandy houses.

Photo courtesy James Byrnes

“They can’t keep getting extensions. A lot of these houses represent a health hazard. There’s been years of mold and varmints,” he said.

There are two new part-time construction officials that will be doing inspections on homes, Camera said. This was a cost saving measure, as two part-timers can do the work of one full time employee without a full time salary and benefits.