The Pleasantville Village Board last week passed two laws that will allow the municipality to more effectively deal with unsafe, abandoned and neglected properties within its jurisdiction.
The first resolution addresses changes to the existing property maintenance code to provide the village with leverage to properly maintain unsafe and deteriorating buildings and properties that pose hazardous conditions to the public.
Exterior property conditions such as the storage of debris as well as maintaining brush, grass or weeds is covered by the second resolution, which allows for local enforcement mechanisms to make sure the property conforms to the state Property Maintenance Code and the village’s standards.
“This is an existing law already on the books about unsafe structures,” said Village Administrator Eric Morrissey. “This amendment brings the law into conformity with state regulations. The village’s current code does not allow for due process.”
During the Nov. 14 public hearing, Morrissey explained that property owners will be notified that they have to take action within 30 days. If no action is taken, the building inspector will notify the board, he said.
The Village Board would then hold a public hearing to discuss the facts and circumstances of the property in question and allow its owner another 30 days to correct the situation. If it is still not taken care of, the village will step in and bill the property owner for services rendered. If the property owner fails to pay, a lien will be placed against their property.
Pleasantville resident Donna Edlund was skeptical about the 30-day notices.
“Thirty days seems like a long time,” she said. “What if it snows and that (situation) changes in 30 days, they (the property owners) might not know.”
Morrissey said a clause in the law allows the village to “deem it to be an emergency situation and we would take action immediately.”
Edlund also asked if that would apply to years’ worth of leaves that haven’t been removed. She was told that it would.
Acting as the eyes and ears for the board in finding delinquent properties will be village code enforcement officers who work in the building inspector’s office.
“They make their rounds throughout the village and they see a lot of these circumstances,” said Morrissey.
Trustee Nicole Asquith said the village has occasionally received e-mails from citizens about some of these issues, such as overgrown bushes.
The new property maintenance law was initially triggered by complaints from the Bedford Road School, which is near a house at 136 Manville Rd. that’s been vacant for over a year. School personnel were concerned about the safety of the students, many of whom walk by the house, especially when snow accumulates in the winter.
Other abandoned and neglected properties that might be subject to the board’s new actions are 278 Washington Ave., 79 Grandview Ave. and 588 Washington Ave.
The new law allows for a written notice to be served by the village building inspector to the property owner that remedial work has to start within 30 days. If the owner intends to comply, the building inspector can extend the time for repairs to be made.
However, if the property owner fails or refuses to act, the village may set up boards around the building or barricade the entrances to any part of the property considered dangerous. Liens will be imposed on the property for any services performed by the village.
Last summer, Pleasantville Building Inspector Robert Hughes alerted the board about structures no longer occupied and how overgrown foliage and accumulating snow in the winter had caused safety issues. Some of the vacant properties had been foreclosed but the banks hadn’t yet taken control.