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Angelides targets 'problem properties' in Longmeadow

Date: 7/24/2012

By Chris Maza

LONGMEADOW — Selectman Marie Angelides is encouraging the Select Board and town department heads to look into creating a plan through which it could address issues related to abandoned, rental and bank-owned properties.

Angelides told Reminder Publications that she attended a seminar regarding the issue of "problem properties" at the Massachusetts Municipal Association conference in January. She recently distributed information on such programs to the Select Board, the Planning Board and several town departments.

"The problem extends beyond 'problem properties,'" she said. "What has happened in the Northeast is a lot of people who want to sell their homes because of the economic situation can't. As a result of this, we're seeing more and more rentals and foreclosures."

In some instances, the rental or foreclosed properties in town have not been properly kept up, which could lead to issues regarding public safety, public health and devaluation of neighbors' property.

"Like many towns in the Northeast, Longmeadow should be looking at this issue," she said.

Some properties in town are in severe disrepair, including a home on Hazardville Road which still has a tree that fell as a result of the Oct. 29, 2011 snowstorm resting on it.

Currently the town does not have any recourse to take care of such issues.

"If we stay ahead of the curve, if there are problems we can be two steps ahead in already having a plan for enforcement," Angelides said.

The plan, she explained, would require the cooperation of multiple departments and most likely would necessitate the creation of new ordinances. Among the possible penalties for the violation of these ordinances could be placing bonds on bank-owned properties.

"This would likely require the formation of a multi-departmental task force made up of representatives of the Police Department, Fire Department, Board of Health and others that would meet throughout the year and identify those properties that qualify as 'problem properties,'" she said.

Due to the complexity of the program, Angelides said she believed it could be some time until something is actually developed.

"This program requires departments to pull together and with the creation of ordinances, I could take a while to put together," she said. "Hopefully this could be something through which we could pull insight from people with different expertise and put together a productive program."