COLONIE: Town tackles blight

Colonie has moved closer to amending town laws enabling building inspectors to actively pursue unsafe and unsightly properties.

During the summer, Supervisor Mary Brizzell set a committee to work indexing problem properties and their owners. That list includes nearly 50 properties that for various reasons have been abandoned or have become unsightly or unsafe. To clean them up, the town has relied on old measures of working with owners or dragging reluctant ones to court.

Now, new amendments to town law will give inspectors new tools to cite property owners and bring them before the town board to address their properties. If warranted, the town will also have the ability to have the problems remedied or removed and, best-case scenario, stick the owner with the tab.

What we've done using our complaint-driven system is create a list or properties we are targeting. There have been a number of properties that are under construction, new projects or are under way. But we know we can do more, said Denise Sheehan, director of the town's planning and economic development department.

Sheehan has worked with Building Department Director Michael Rosch to compile the list of properties. Sheehan listed the commercial and Rosch the residential.

The intent of the new law is to strengthen the town's abilities, Sheehan said. It isn't about going after the property owners. If anything, the law is fostering a better working relationship with town departments and property owners to get to the root of the problem when it comes to the abandoned or vacant properties. The intent is to work with owners to either bring the properties up to code and newly proposed building safety standards or get them fixed and on the market.

If needed, however, the law does give the town the ability to remove unsafe structures if the working relationship is nonexistent.

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