Zombie Property & Land Bank Workshop Draws Crowd
On November 10, over 50 local leaders, code enforcement officials, planning and zoning board members, builders, realtors and more attended a Zombie Property & Land Bank Workshop hosted by Schoharie Area Long Term (SALT) Development, Schoharie County Planning & Development, Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce, Mohawk Valley Economic Development District (MVEDD), Keep Mohawk Valley Beautiful (KMVB) and the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank (GMVLB). The goal of the workshop was to highlight different methods of, and funding sources that are available for, handling zombie properties and blighted buildings that have fallen into disrepair in our county.
The first presenter, Mark Domenico, Chief Code Enforcement Officer for the City of Rome, shared information about the current structure of the city’s Vacant Property Survey and Inventory and its future structure, which will include the newly formed GMVLB. The City of Rome has utilized a Real Property Committee including staff from the Mayor’s Office, Code and Treasurer’s Departments and a citizen appointed by the Mayor. For the full City of Rome Zombie Presentation click here.
“The City of Rome has a well-developed housing and code enforcement court system that is increasingly working through a backlog of problem properties,” reported Mr. Domenico. In contrast to the traditional tax foreclosure auction used in Schoharie County – and other rural counties – the Real Property Committee oversees a closed sealed bid process, with foreclosed properties going to the most qualified bidders. The City has also established consequences, including fines, for those bidders acquiring foreclosed properties that do not meet the conditions of their purchase agreements.
Mr. Domenico also spoke about the new NYS Zombie Law, also known as the Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act of 2016. Financial institutions are now required by law to inspect foreclosed properties in their possession and report data to the Attorney General’s office. Local municipalities may request information about bank-foreclosed properties in their jurisdictions by contacting the NYS Department of Financial Services. A “zombie property” is considered vacant or abandoned when:
At least three monthly payments are past due on the mortgage loan or the mortgagor has informed the mortgagee in writing that s/he does not intend to occupy the property in the future.
There is a reasonable basis to believe the property is not occupied. This belief is based on two or more inspections of the property at least 30 days apart wherein evidence of abandonment is present.