According to the Manville News, a question was posed by Susan Asher at a recent council meeting about unsightly, smelly abandoned homes in the Lost Valley section of the borough still left vacant since tropical storm Irene flooded the area in 2011. Can the borough pressure banks to demolish or bring these abandoned, moldy homes up to code? She called the abandoned properties a “health issue” for neighbors.
Remedies could be pursued through ordinances on the books according to borough Attorney Francis Linnus. ”If you follow the procedure, that, ultimately, might happen,” he said and also suggested the Board of Health could step in.
An ordinance was passed in March mandating repairs to “unfit or unsuitable for habitation or use” properties by the Borough Council. There will be costs as liens if work is to be performed by the borough and the homes must first be determined as legally abandoned.
The first step is to declare the house was legally abandoned according to Linnus and he stated that sending a letter to put the lender on notice shouldn’t be an issue.
He went on to say,”If we have all that, we need to take it a step further now. We need to officially send something to these people saying we are no longer going to tolerate the conditions of this house.”
The Star-Ledger reported that 1,200 homes in the borough sustained water damage and 20 came up with weakened foundations after Irene. Up to seven feet of water on the first floor were seen by some residents in their homes.
The smell of mold, high grass and unsightly broken windows are now very apparent as the weather gets warmer.
Now that the weather is warmer, abandoned homes have the smell of mold, unsightly broken windows, high grass and more, residents said.
Councilwoman Susan Asher went on to state that the Public Works Department is cutting grass on many such properties.”Are we going to be looking at this for the next 30 years just sitting there? Cutting the grass makes it a little better, but still they have garbage on their property, windows broken, doors open. It is a health issue for the people who live next door, live and walk around with children. Is there any way that we can say, ‘Get it into livable shape or demolish it?’?”
Unfortunately, few properties are owned by the banks Borough Administrator Gary Garwacke said.
Residents are fed up with the situation and that in some neighborhoods as many as seven houses were left abandoned.
Liens are being placed on the houses and those paying for grass-cutting costs according to Mayor Angelo Corradino. He went on to say numerous times,”We are working on it. It is being taken care of.”
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