Floral Park eyes cash for zombie house maintenance

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Floral Park eyes cash for zombie house maintenance
Village of Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi at a previous meeting. (Photo by Samuel Glasser)

By Grace McQuade

Floral Park officials are considering a law that would provide money for the village to maintain abandoned homes that are under foreclosure.

The new law, discussed at a public hearing Tuesday night, would require the individual, business, bank or organization foreclosing on a vacant property to pay $35,000 to the village within 45 days after foreclosure proceedings start.

This deposit would be used to preserve and care for the deserted property to prevent it from falling into disrepair and becoming an eyesore, trustees said. Once a foreclosure action is discontinued, any unused funds would be returned.

“When properties in the Village of Floral Park fall vacant and become the subject of foreclosure actions, they frequently become neglected and overgrown with grass, weeds and rubbish,” Mayor Dominick Longobardi said.

This not only creates an unsightly appearance, but also impairs the ability of residents and business owners to go about their days in a “safe, clear and aesthetic environment,” Longobardi said.

“The village is committed to using all legal avenues to proactively address these adverse conditions to alleviate the burden these vacant properties impose on a neighborhood,” Longobardi said.

In December 2016, New York State passed a law that requires financiers of homes, such as mortgage companies and banks, to inspect, secure, maintain and register properties that have become abandoned.

Trustee Lynn Pombonyo said the state legislation has been instrumental in helping to get tax reimbursements for work on several abandoned properties in the village, making it a “very, very important piece of legislation for us,” she said.

Longobardi said the new village law mirrors the state law, but gives the local government more control with an advance cash reserve and removes the burden from taxpayers.

The law will not only deter violations by creating a financial incentive against allowing the property to fall into disrepair, but it will also expedite the resolution of property maintenance violations when they occur and prevent increases in village spending, officials said.

The law would take effect once it’s filed with the state’s secretary of state. The village Board of Trustees tabled the law Tuesday evening, and did not say when it would vote on it.

Also on Tuesday, the board heard plans for an expansion of Twisted Frozen Yogurt, located at 175 Tulip Ave., at the northwest corner of Tulip and Plainfield avenues.

Anthony Kelly, the shop’s owner since July 2016, said he plans to grow his business by selling bagels, muffins, croissants and other baked goods, as well as soft drinks, sandwiches and salads, with the goal of having his future revenue split equally between selling these new food items and yogurt.

Zoning laws in the village require that any changes made to a retail store that wants to prepare and sell food must be authorized by a special use permit after a public hearing.

Speaking on Kelly’s behalf, architect Mario Vergara outlined proposed changes to the store, which include installing a gas bagel oven, new counter space to include a muffin case and electric grills, and a beverage machine on wheels, among other interior renovations.

Vergara said Kelly intends to seek approval of his food preparation standards from the Nassau County Health Department, as well as written permission from the building’s landlord to place a small, portable refrigerator in the basement to hold trash.

Upon providing satisfactory responses to follow-up questions from several trustees asking for more details about oven exhaust and gas systems, hours of operation, customer lines and staff increases at the small corner shop, among other topics, the board tabled the application for a later decision.

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