ROME — Rome is setting an example for the rest of the state on how to handle zombie properties under a new state law passed last year.
In a recent meeting with the Rome Common Council, Chief Code Enforcement Officer Mark Domenico said the city is getting ready to take action against Bank of America for a property it owns at 107 N. Jay St. This is the first action in the state to be taken under the new law.
“Believe it or not, Rome, New York, is the model figuring this thing out for the state,” Domenico said. “I called (someone from the state) the other day and said, ‘We’re ready to prosecute this. Enough’s enough; it’s been a month, no action. Let’s test it and see what we can do.’”
Zombie properties are vacant and abandoned homes that are not maintained during a prolonged foreclosure proceeding.
City officials were aggressive in finding information about the new law after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it, as well as learning how it applies to Rome, said Mayor Jacqueline Izzo. That law requires banks and lending agencies to keep up properties that are in foreclosure, and also will establish a state registry of foreclosed properties so the public knows who owns them.
The city wanted to find out how to create the database required by the new law and how they would be allowed and expected to enforce it, she said.
Rome already has a Real Property Committee, which has moved more than $1 million in foreclosed and abandoned properties back to the tax rolls through general sales and rehabilitation agreements, Izzo said.
“This is an offshoot of the closure of Griffiss Air Force Base,” Izzo said. “Our community had to react differently than maybe other upstate cities did because we lost so much population and so many rentals all at once. So we really had to be on the forefront of figuring out how to deal with this problem of a lot of surplus property coming onto the foreclosure list.”
Those successes encouraged…