The Smithtown Town Council has begun to take a hard look at properties in the area that could be considered blighted and is working on steps to address them.
The initiative spearheaded by town councilmen Robert Creighton, Kevin Malloy and Edward Wehrheim includes a master list of 19 properties that could be considered blighted in Smithtown. It has not yet been determined if the properties on the list are blighted and the list may still grow.
Wehrheim said blighted homes were a problem and that more has do be done to address them.
“We are getting tougher on the problem. We are taking a hard line if you are not going forward with the property,” Wehrheim said. “We can certainly make it more difficult than we have.”
Though nothing exists on the books today, the town would like to put something in place that would give them the ability to address these properties.
“The town is thinking of a blight ordinance, which is beyond a property maintenance ordinance,” said Frank DeRubeis, director of planning for the Town of Smithtown. “We can write it. The hard part is deciding how you can implement it. When it comes to property we have to be careful. We can do something when there is a clear public problem.
DeRubeis said other towns have developed a point system by scoring a site. If it falls below the said score the town takes steps to remove the blighted property.
“Blight impacts property value and can undermine property values of a community and is a legitimate thing for communities to attack," he said.
The Town of Islip to allow officials to take action against blighted properties in February. Islip Town officials plan to create a Blighted Property Inventory List that will carry a registration fee of $2,500 for residential properties, $5,000 for commercial properties with incentives to encourage developers to buy these blighted properties.
In Smithtown, two attorneys, whom Wehrheim describes as tough, have been put into place to help tackle the problem. “We are laying down maximum fines. We don’t have to negotiate a $5,000 fine down to $3,000.”
Properties in the Hauppauge that could be considered blighted but have not yet been determined:
Abandoned gas station. 90 Motor Parkway. Abandoned filling station at entrance to town and industrial park.
Abandoned gas station. Northwest corner of Route 347 and 111.