VALHALLA, N.Y. – The Mount Pleasant Building Department is turning into its own home improvement company this summer as the town works to shape-up abandoned houses that have been determined to be unsafe.
“With these homes being abandoned they pose as not only a place for crime, mostly with younger people, but also a fire hazard,” said Town Supervisor Joan Maybury. “So the building inspector has worked to determine if they are safe, and if not, fix up the outside of them.”
Over the past month, Mount Pleasant Building Inspector Sal Pennelle determined five homes in Mount Pleasant were not only abandoned, but posed a safety hazard. The houses were in various areas of the town in Hawthorne, Thornwood, Pleasantville and Chappaqua. Pennelle said that the obvious issue is that the homes are clearly deteriorating due to their lack of upkeep for an extended period of time, but that a bigger problem is that they are highly susceptible to a brush fire that can spread to neighboring properties. All of the houses featured tall grass that can spark a fire with the right mixture of heat and lack of water.
To combat the problem, Maybury said the town hired an outside company to perform routine maintenance such as mowing the lawn, replacing broken windows, and repairing any broken locks. Since the taxes for each home are still being paid by the homeowner or bank, the town will not incur the cost of the maintenance.
Maybury said one home on Stephen Drive in Pleasantville was becoming a nuisance with neighbors for multiple reasons.
“The neighbors on that street were complaining because the grass has gotten so high that foxes and all kinds of animals were living in it and getting into their yards,” Maybury said. “And for the neighbors we want to keep up the value of the area.”
The Stephen Drive property is the last one of the initial group to receive maintenance and Maybury said the work should be done by early next week.