On the heels of seeing one home in the area demolished at the ordering of Southampton Town — and another soon to come — members of local civic groups in Flanders, Riverside and Northampton have made a list of 15 other blighted properties they’d like to see torn down.
The issue was discussed at Monday’s meeting of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, where Ron Fisher, who is president of the Bay View Pines Civic and Taxpayers Association (also centered in Flanders) said he has, with the help of FRNCA president Vince Taldone, compiled a list of 15 blighted properties in the three hamlets. He posted pictures and addresses of them on the “Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Residents United for Positive Change” Facebook page.
Mr. Fisher said one of the concerns he’s heard from owners of some of the properties is that they are reluctant to demolish a property because they may be unable to rebuild the same size house.
“I’m nervous that some of them are just using that excuse,” said Flanders resident Susan Tocci.
Southampton Councilman John Bouvier said he is willing to look into the issue, but he said each property has its own particular issues and the town has to be careful.
“One of my favorites is that flower shack on the corner of southeast corner of Flanders Boulevard and Flanders Road,” Mr. Taldone said. “It’s been collapsing for quite some time.
“The building’s new owner said they want to keep it to open a vegetable stand, but there’s no parking on either side, so there’d be nowhere for customers to park,” Mr. Taldone said.
“Meanwhile, for 15 years it exists like that, and everybody accepts that as normal for here,” Mr. Fisher said.
Mr. Bouvier said the approach the town has been taking with blighted buildings “is that they are a safety hazard and a danger to the community.”
But he said there’s also a cost to the town to demolish and cart away blighted buildings in cases where the town seeks remediation from the property owner is not successful in doing so.
He said the town also has to be very careful to make sure the proper owners are notified, because it’s often difficult to find the owners of derelict buildings. In some cases, an owner may turn up later and claim they weren’t notified.
He asked the group to provide a list of specific properties in writing.
“I can tell you that this administration takes it seriously and we will not ignore this list,” Mr. Bouvier said. “But I can’t make general promises for all properties.”
Mr. Taldone added that not all property owners on the list want to see their properties fall into disrepair.
“We found a number of property owners who just had financial problems and we found ways to get them connected to programs that existed to fix their houses,” he said. “We’re here to help.”