Massapequa Park Passes Stunning — And Potentially Expensive — New Law On Property Upkeep
CBS New York: Thousands of dollars in fines? Even jail time? They’re taking home maintenance seriously in one Long Island village. Make no mistake, a messy lawn can cost you in Massapequa Park.
As CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan surmised on Tuesday, at least one homeowner on Merrick Road is in hot water. Effective immediately he faces stiff fines and even jail time for failure to maintain his property.
“This is a quality of life issue, yes. The place is filthy. I’m paying taxes. I have to look at their lawn and garbage. If I complain they laugh in my face, and I’ve been living here 23 years,” neighbor Sophie Wolchok said.
Wolchok came armed to Village Hall with photo proof. Sick and tired of blight and garbage, she was among those testifying before the mayor and village board, seeking relief from foreclosed homes, dead trees, vermin, and swimming pools half filled with water, which poses a danger to children of her community, and attracts mosquitoes that carry the deadly West Nile virus.
“We are instituting a stiff fine that has escalating clauses to be punitive because we want banks and landowners to pay attention to their properties and maintain their properties like the rest of our community,” Mayor James Altadonna, Jr. said.
The vote was unanimous. If your lawns aren’t mowed, if dumpsters are full, gutters are broken, shopping carts are unattended, windows and doors are boarded banks or homeowners face: $250-$1,000 fine for the first offense, $2,500 plus up to 10 days in jail for the second and $10,000 and 15 jail days for the third.
Some complained the new laws are downright unfriendly. “If you have a neighbor that has a lawn or whatever that doesn’t look right, you say, ‘can I help you with it?’” Lauren Della Greca said. “I take care of my own lawn myself and it takes a good two and half hours, so if I was elderly, that could be an issue,” homeowner Joseph Anderson added.
A resident told WCBS 880′s Mike Xirinachs he thinks there has to be a better, more neighborly way. “I think this is a type of place, I live here because people help each other out, not because they report each other,” he said. “If it’s an elderly couple that’s having problems maintaining their property, I think we should help them out. I don’t think we should fine them $1,000.”
The mayor said the fines are not directed at those going through tough times. He said they will work with any families who can’t afford upkeep. Excessive litter, junk vehicles, broken lighting, unfinished construction and graffiti are all subject to fines as well, the mayor said.
What’s next, a fine if you don’t wash your car and it looks filthy sitting in your driveway?
This is the problem with people like Sophie Wolchok – believing that solutions to neighborhood problems will come from government. For Pete’s Sake, go speak with a neighbor if you don’t like what they are doing (even if it is their private property). Work with other neighbors to help each other out.
Careful what you ask for Sophie — you never know when a neighbor might believe YOU and the way you choose to live becomes a danger to the children of your community.