BRICK – The first home to be demolished under an abandoned properties ordinance now moves along the process with the township seeking bids to raze the house.
The governing body authorized the township to seek bids for the demolition of an abandoned waterfront home in the Herbertsville section, which would be the first of many such homes to be demolished after the council passed an abandoned properties ordinance last year.
Mayor John G. Ducey said the recently formed Property Maintenance Board has held numerous meetings and has held numerous hearings about the abandoned properties, which he called “a blight on our town.”
“This is the first property to make its way through the system, with the various notice requirements and all these different things that has to happen, and the extensions of time that have to be given,” Ducey said.
After the home is demolished, a lien is placed on the property so whenever that property is sold the demolition price would be in the lien and the township would be paid back first, he said.
Township Property Maintenance Attorney Charles D. Bauer gave a brief history of the property during the council meeting.
Starting in August 2014, the township took a series of steps, outlined in the ordinance, to notify the owner of the property to attend a hearing; what followed was an adjournment, hearings, emails, a change of attorneys, and multiple promises and assurances by the bank that all the issues at the property, located at 126 South Beverly Drive, had been resolved.
The Township Construction Official, Daniel F. Newman “indicated the exact opposite,” Bauer testified. “Nothing had been done.”
In February 2015 the bank??Deutsche Bank National Trust Company as Trustee for Long Beach Mortgage Loan Trust??hired someone from a property preservation company to take care of the problems because they heard “the matter had been escalated,” and the Property Maintenance Board gave them one last chance to make the problems go away, which they did not do, Bauer said.
“I don’t see any other avenue for the township but to demolish the property,” he said.
The owner of the property, Gary Casaletto, gave the township permission to access the interior, so on July 30 Newman inspected the interior and reported that there were black, moldy walls, a damaged and missing roof, and “spongy” lower and subfloors, Bauer said.
The bank’s engineering report said that the exterior of the building??including a deck and an empty inground pool??could fail and damage surrounding properties, so the bank is not opposed to the demolition of the property due to reasons of liability, he said.
Newman said he feels for the nearby homeowners who have had to live next to the abandoned home for about seven years.
“It comes to the point where the logic is that the value of the structure is less than the cost of doing the remediation; it makes more sense to tear it down,” he said during the council meeting.
Michael Fricano, who lives across the street from the abandoned home, said that the whole roof lifted up in a single flap before Superstorm Sandy; afterwards, a “cheap tarp” was used to cover the roof which was ripped open by the storm.
“The door was left open two weeks ago. There’s kids all around this neighborhood. When I went to close it, I looked inside and the mold was extensive…we live within 20 yards and we worry about our health, and the house looks horrible,” he said.
Resident Vic Finelli asked what happens to the property after it is demolished. “Are there guidelines for how you leave it?” he asked.
Township Business Administrator, Joanne Bergin, said that some level of restoration would be part of the contract.
“I’m glad you’re putting some teeth into these ordinances…this might set an example to people that you’re really serious,” Finelli said. “You have to follow the rules.”
The next council meeting will be held at the Normandy Beach Improvement Association Building at 541 Broad Street on August 25 at 7pm.