After a resolution passed to retain a tax foreclosure in the flood zone, Suffolk County voted to fund the demolition of 180 West Forrest Road in Mastic Beach, setting a precedent, last week.
“We have been trying to obtain these properties, but typically you have to wait over two years to have them demolished,” said Legis. Kate Browning’s chief of staff, Josh Slaughter. “This is the first time we were able to get around that.”
According to Slaughter, the county was able to successfully cancel the redemption period on the property, thus setting a precedent. Usually, he said, there is what is known as a hardship redemption period of two and half years that prevents the county from taking any action on an acquired parcel. In this case, due to the sensitive location, that period was canceled, allowing for the immediate demolition of the structure.
“That property on Forrest was a construction site that was never completed and they stopped paying taxes, so the county was able to obtain the property,” Browning explained. “Then we were able to approve funding for demolition because it’s towards the wetlands. It’s unsafe and our goal is to restore it back to its natural order.”
Former mayor Maura Spery said she lives close by the blighted home and kids have begun to vandalize it by breaking the windows and damaging the cars parked outside.
“I am really happy the county stepped up to clear the property,” she said. “This is really great news.”
Additionally, Browning said, the county is looking to do the same for a blighted property on Diana Drive close to the water. She said she hopes to cancel the redemption period on that site as well.
“These are both critical pieces of property that were flooded by Sandy and have become an issue,” she added. “We need to continue to protect the wetlands and get rid of blighted properties.”
The county will fund the Forrest Road demolition in the amount of $137,000, which will take place sometime this month. According to Slaughter, the demolition is part of the county’s mission to acquire properties within environmentally sensitive areas to restore Mastic Beach’s wetlands for storm resiliency and to reduce the amount of nitrogen leaching into surface water.