Town of Smithtown Looks to Address Blighted Properties

Town Creates Master List of Properties That Could Be Considered Blighted.

The Smithtown Town Council has begun to take aand is working on steps to address them.

The initiative spearheaded by town councilmen Robert Creighton, Kevin Malloy and Ed Wehrheim includes a master list of nineteen 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, at the Kings Park Civic Association meeting last week, said blighted homes were a problem and that more has to 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,” said Wehrheim. “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," said DeRubeis.

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," he said.

 “It is a good sign that the town is willing to make a list like this,” said Kings Park Civic Association President Sean Lehmann.

Properties located in Kings Park that could be considered blighted but have not yet been determined:

Hightower Homes. Two homes that were never completed.

Ley Property. 1215 Route 25A. Abandoned commercial building.

Kings Park Adult Home. Abandoned adult home with significant damage.

Read related stories of other town properties that could be considered blighted in Commack, Hauppauge and

KKM June 02, 2011 at 02:59 PM
While I never support government 'nanny-ism' or over-intrusion in personal freedoms/rights, there comes a point where buildings (such as those on the 'list) can't be salvaged and become a community nuisance and should be removed. Hmmm... would the law allow Smithtown the ability to 'force' the State's hand with the Kings Park Psych property?
kptree June 02, 2011 at 04:00 PM
I'm not quite sure why the two homes on 25A have a legal right to stand anyway. They were built without permits and are a safety hazard. It's troubling to think that the town would not have the right to knock them down or force the property owner to do so. For the legally owned and built properties such as the nursing home or old bar the town has little or no right to seize these. This is scarily close to the New London/Groton area where a government forced hard working families out of their homes to give the land to a private pharmaceutical company to build on. They called the area "blighted" when it was just poor. There is too much chance of abuse with legislation like this. The town has other resources and legislation it can use to make property owners more responsible.
KKM June 02, 2011 at 08:58 PM
Unfortunately, these properties become a safety problem for the whole community. It's not fair for taxpayers who expect law enforcement to keep out trespassers. Why should law enforcement, and the rest of the town, be burdened when it's the individual owner creating the problem? I also have a problem respecting property owners who don't respect the rest of the community and don't respect residents who pour a lot of money into their mortgage, taxes, schools and properties in order to have a nice place to live.
kptree June 02, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Well the truth is, we don't live in a giant HOA that dictates the height we need to cut our grass. One of the properties has been abandoned for decades- why now all the fuss? I have not seen any police reports about trespassers in the abandoned adult home or the bar. This situation is very different than what is going on with the KPPC. That is publicly owned land that the State is not protecting or maintaining. Those building are a magnet for trespassers and illegal activities. The State has fallen down on its promise to protect the public good. Here we are talking about privately held properties whose owners make no such promise to the public. If the owners are neglect to pay taxes the State or Town should seize them. If they fail to pay their mortgages, the banks should take the property. If they fail to live up to the property maintenance standards zoned by the town, the town should fine them. Seizing properties because of "blight" paves the way for the town or State to take over properties that are in the way of their sweetheart deals with private companies.
Sean Lehmann June 03, 2011 at 12:27 AM
First, let me just say that the list is just a "rough draft". The list was obtained by me because the Kings Park Civic Association has been working with the developer for the Ley property and the town planning department. It was stressed to me that the list was only a "rough draft". Although it has been perceived that Councilman Wehrheim used the Kings Park Civic Association to announce the town's initiative, this was not the case. The list was on the civic association's meeting agenda under new business. Local news is becoming very popular, so many in the local media ask the KPCA for their monthly meeting agendas. When the topic was listed on the agenda, local reporters jumped all over the story. So naturally, Councilman Wehrheim was asked to explain the initiative for the media. The fact that the list is public is probably a good thing because it shows that the town has started to address the issue of blighted structures. It is also good because the town is now expected to move forward now that the list is public. I will address how the KPCA has been addressing these structures for quite some time now.
Sean Lehmann June 03, 2011 at 12:51 AM
The Kings Park Civic Association receives many complaints (mostly through emails) about certain structures in Kings Park. Although many of the complaints are about certain structures on Main St., some have been about the structures on the list. One structure not on the "rough draft" is the steel structure on Indian Head Road. The KPCA has inquired about this structure in the past. I can honestly say that the KPCA takes resident's concerns seriously. As far is downtown is concerned, the KPCA has been working hard to see that rundown and unsafe structures are addressed. The KPCA has been having private discussions with some of the property owners. I do believe that you will see some kind of action in the near future. About nine months ago, the KPCA contacted the owner of the structure across from CVS (Ley property) about the condition of the building and the fact that people had been observed going in and out of the structure. The developer called us the next day and explained to us the conflict he was having with the town as far as moving forward with a renovation. Since that time, the KPCA has been talking to the town planning department and the highway department to come up with some kind of settlement so the project can move forward. Although there are a few obstacles, I believe common ground can be achieved.
Sean Lehmann June 03, 2011 at 12:56 AM
The Hightower homes were not built to code and we (KPCA) believe that one of them has been deemed unsafe. The building department was contacted over eight months ago to address the KPCA's concern with these two homes. We were told that the properties were now owned by a bank and that they were up for sale but the homes have attracted no interest as of late. The towns initiative on blight would be a welcome sign when it comes to these structures. The Kings Park Civic Association had only started to recieve complaints about the adult home on 25A when the "rough draft" list was obtained. I'm sure more information will be available to us in the near future. Sign up for the Kings Park Civic Association email list at www.KingsParkCivic.org for future updates.
kptree June 03, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Thank you for the information Sean. The KPCA works very hard to improve KP and I appreciate your efforts even when I don't necessarily agree with all of the organization's positions. The Ley property that you mention perfectly illustrates my point. If you have a property owner/developer that is trying to renovate a property, why would the town look to deem it a "blight"? It's frustrating that the Town of Smithtown would stand in the way of remediating a property and instead look to pass intrusive and uneccesary legislation. As far as the Hightower homes go, I was understanding that they were not built with the proper permits. Wouldn't that pave the way for condemnation and demoliton?
Sean Lehmann June 03, 2011 at 09:27 PM
Hi KPTree. It seems that the Hightower homes were built without certain permits. There seemed to be a struggle between the developer and the town throughout the whole construction phase. If these homes were not built to code, they should probably come down. That will be a decision made by the town. As far as the KPCA's positions, don't be surprised that you might have heard the wrong information. For instance, some people say that the KPCA advocates for nothing but an open space park on the former hospital property. That is not the case. We advocate for a mix of open space and development that emphasizes the arts, recreation and education. Did you know that the state pays taxes on the park/ former hospital property of nearly one million dollars? The truth is that the Kings Park School District benefits from all of our state land and parks. That is good news for all tax-paying residents. Feel free to come to a civic meeting and let your voice be heard. Sign up on our email list for other information. I have always believed that the civic association's number one goal should be to provide the community with credible information.
jan mayfield October 17, 2011 at 01:02 PM
Why Ed Wehrheim should NOT be reelected Ed Wehrheim Bio: ============== - Never attended a 4 year College - Never attended a Junior College - Has no Advanced Education Degree past High School - Has NO Business background - Wehrheim is running Smithtown into the ground Has full support of his parks department cronies who’s only interest is to protect their jobs, and generous pensions during a painful recession. Ask yourself – Wehrheim been credited with -0- accomplishments in the past 8 years Has control of a multi million dollar budget with NO College or Business Eucation Smithtown can do better with a NEW Council Person LEANR MORE HERE: VIEW SUSAN REID'S full RESPONSE 10-10-2011 http://tinyurl.com/4xaew4f


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