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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 5, 2010

Bill proposal
Town to charge owners for tearing down derelict buildings

By Saranac Hale Spencer

NEW SCOTLAND — The town is considering a law that would allow it to charge property owners for the stabilization or removal of derelict buildings.

The bill, called the “unsafe buildings law,” was prompted by concern from Jeffry Pine, New Scotland’s code enforcement officer, said Supervisor Thomas Dolin, who is sponsoring the bill.

Over the 13 years that Pine has worked for the town, he said, he’s gotten intermittent complaints about specific buildings.  With the tattered economy over the last couple of years, he speculated that people aren’t buying properties to fix up like they had been, and concluded of the bill, “I think it’s a good step.”

Residents have brought to his attention a couple of properties in Feura Bush and four or five properties in Clarksville, he said.  Since some have been abandoned, there’s no responsible party to go after, Pine said, so the proposed law would allow the town to record the cost of necessary work on the tax roll.

His top priority if the bill passes is a building behind the Stewart’s shop in Feura Bush, which has a door that doesn’t close anymore; next in line would be a building on State Farm Road and one between Stewart’s and the hamlet of Clarksville.  Pine’s recommendation would be to “make them safe,” which could mean securely boarding them up.

“Other towns have this ordinance,” he said, explaining that New Scotland’s proposed law is based on those used in Guilderland, Bethlehem, and Voorheesville.

“In the event of neglect or refusal to comply with the order to secure or demolish and remove the building, the town board is authorized to provide for its demolition and removal, to assess all expenses thereof against the land on which it is located and to institute a special proceeding to collect the costs of demolition, including legal expenses,” the bill says.

Currently, the town can’t charge the cost of maintenance or demolition to the property owner, Dolin said.  “What I’m trying to do is plug a loophole,” he said.

A public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 11 at 6:30 at Town Hall.

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