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Reilich: Crack down on absentee landlords

Reilich: Crack down on absentee landlords by Meaghan M. McDermott

Marking his first 100 days on the job by delivering his first address as Greece town supervisor, Bill Reilich pledged a crackdown on absentee landlords — particularly in the Dewey Avenue/Stone Road area — and promised a new municipal court that will only handle code violations.

Reilich, who took office in January after a decade in the state Assembly, spoke to members of the Greece Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon at Ridgemont Country Club.

He said the rental property initiative stemmed from concerns raised by residents in the town’s older section, where ill-maintained rental properties threaten to destabilize neighborhoods and lower property values.

Houses are good values there, many with selling prices under $100,000, and being purchased by investors often from out-of-state, he said.

“But the problem is the landlords are a million miles away and don’t know what’s going on in the home, but the neighbors do,” he said. Renters move next to long-time owner-occupied homes and “sometimes the individual living there leaves cars on the front lawn, or the lawn’s growing high or the home needs paint and the homeowner who’s been there for 40 years says ‘I’m sick of this,’ moves away and their home becomes rental and on and on down the street.”

Details of that plan will be hashed out in coming weeks, but would likely include town inspections every three years to ensure the properties are up to code before they can be certified as habitable.

Carole Messina-Provost, with the neighborhood association Dewey Corridor Neighbors, applauded the move.

“I give the town a standing ovation,” she said. “For them to do this is being very proactive. A plan where they will do inspections of homes is fantastic and I think it will encourage people to know that if they buy a house and plan on making it a rental, they are going to have consequences if they don’t keep it up.”

In his speech, Reilich also noted that the state of business development in town is strong, and said he anticipates as many as three new car dealerships along West Ridge Road in coming months.

Also part of Reilich’s upcoming agenda is a new Police Department headquarters on the town hall campus on Vince Tofany Boulevard. The department now runs out of a converted waste water treatment plant on Island Cottage Road that is too small and inadequate for the needs of a 21st Century police force, Reilich said. Funding for that project would be freed up in 2016 when the town finishes paying off its bonds for building town hall.

Additionally, the department will soon be adopting a more formalized uniform and going back to black and white police cars. Charcoal gray patrol vehicles were rolled out in 2012.

As for his campaign pledges to make the town’s parks nicer, Reilich said crews are already working to clear brush and construct new restrooms in Badgerow Park South, and that residents will soon have a lodge facility in Braddock Bay park that rivals newly-constructed lodges in nearby county-owned parks.

“There should be no reason for residents to have to go out of our town for these kinds of facilities,” he said.

Although he didn’t give details on where the parcel of land is, Reilich said town officials are in negotiations for a property that would become a new town park on Lake Ontario, giving residents access to the water.

And, he promised a “major announcement” coming up on Monday morning, but was mum on details.

“A lot of things are going on in a very short time,” he said.

MCDERMOT@DemocratandChronicle.com

Twitter.com/meagmc