North Elba board passes law on removing condemned buildings

LAKE PLACID — The North Elba Town Council passed a new local law Tuesday night that will allow the town to remove condemned buildings at the property owner’s expense.

Town Supervisor Roby Politi said leveling condemned properties is a matter of safety, saying some buildings are fire hazards or have wild animals living inside. He mentioned a particular mobile home on Balsam Street that has safety issues. Town Code Enforcement Officer Mike Orticelle said that mobile home has been unoccupied for several years and gets overgrown each spring.

“There are broken windows, and it’s not secured, so animals get in and kids play around in there,” Orticelle said. “Plus, it looks terrible.”

Orticelle said the owner doesn’t live around here anymore and would like to demolish the home, but doesn’t have the means to do so.

Politi said some of the unsafe buildings in North Elba haven’t been removed yet because the property owners can’t afford it. The new law will have the town destroy a structure and put a lien on the property, so the owner doesn’t have to pay for the destruction right away. A lien is a notice signifying that a property owner owes a creditor some money, in this case, the town of North Elba. Town Attorney Ron Briggs said the law gives the town the right to foreclose on the lien at any time, but that most likely would never be the case.

The council suggested once an unsafe building is removed, the land would become more valuable, making it easier to sell the property and thereby pay off the lien.