Watch CBS News

Brookhaven Declares War On 'Zombie Homes,' Tears Down Miller Place House

MILLER PLACE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Long Island house that was teetering on the edge of eroded cliffs above the Long Island Sound was demolished Thursday, part of a town's new plan of attack on abandoned, unsightly homes.

The owner, unable to secure the bluff three years ago, abandoned the Miller Place home, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.

Neighbors, who feared the house would crash into the beach below, welcomed the bulldozing.

"It's unsafe," one neighbor said. "The house is unsafe."

It is among thousands of homes across Long Island and beyond dubbed "zombie houses" -- most are abandoned and in foreclosure and can take up to a decade to wind their way through state banking regulations.

They attract vagrants, drug users, vandals and teenagers. They become mold and fire hazards. Weeds grow, and property values fall.

"It's sad because it's not what your family dream is, to live next to that," a neighbor said.

Brookhaven Township is fighting back with the bulldozer. Its new blighted-property law employs a point system. For each health, safety or building violation, decaying homes earn points.

"If it's boarded up, 50 points," explained Town Supervisor Ed Romaine. "If it's being used by homeless or drug addicts, more points. If it's graffiti, if it's not maintained, more and more points."

After 100 points, the house may be torn down.

The town no longer waits for banks to do required maintenance.

"We have gotten to the point we are not waiting for banks to do the right thing anymore," said Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner. "We are just going to do it."

The banking industry has lobbied for quicker resolutions in foreclosures to prevent them from falling into eyesore condition.

It will cost $90,000 to clear the Miller Place site -- money the town plans to recoup with a lien on the property.

This year, 50 zombie homes in Brookhaven will be reduced to rubble.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.