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September 22, 2018

Fulton Officials Look to Combat Zombie Properties


FULTON, NY – The Fulton Common Council has approved a resolution to allow city officials to apply for state grant funding to combat zombie properties throughout the city.

“Zombie properties are properties that the bank has foreclosed on and they just sit idle. A lot of people around Fulton see a property sitting idle and think the city owns it but in many, many of the cases we don’t, the bank owns them,” Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. said.

Woodward explained that with zombie properties, the bank will pay taxes on the properties but will not put the properties in their name, won’t sell them, and instead just let them sit. This ties the hands of city officials because they are unable to violate the bank through code enforcement and can not put the house in tax foreclosure.

Meanwhile, the properties remain vacant while the city then mows the lawns and otherwise maintains the properties as much as possible.

“Eventually, they don’t need them anymore and eventually when we do get them, they need to be torn down,” Woodward said.

The city will apply for state grant funding through the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) for the Zombie and Vacant Property Remediation and Prevention Initiative for the maximum amount of $150,000.

New state legislation on combat zombie properties was immediately put into legislation by Governor Andrew Cuomo to take effect in December that requires the banks to either put the property in their name or turn the property over to the city.

Executive Director of the Fulton Community Development Agency, Joe Fiumara explained that the LISC grants are compliments of this new legislation and Fulton and other municipalities, including neighboring city, Oswego, were invited to apply for the grant if they had a certain size concentration of zombie properties in the community, however all applying municipalities must still demonstrate the need for funding.

He also explained how the funding would be used.

“It’s going to be used directly to update some software systems in our code enforcement department to include a database that will track and monitor these zombie homes. We’re also going to do an outreach campaign that will try and reach out to families at risk of losing their homes because of foreclosure,” he said. “We want to try to intervene before the eleventh hour, we want to make sure we are offering every type of remedy possible before there’s a relocation issue.”

The city of Fulton homes almost 100 zombie properties right now, “and that’s between bank foreclosures that are still in the old residents name, or banks have already taken over the transition of the property, or other properties that have been abandoned,” Fiumara said.

The grant application deadline is Friday (August 19) and Fiumara was told to expect to hear the results by “early fall.”

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5 Responses “Fulton Officials Look to Combat Zombie Properties”

  1. August 17, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Simply claim eminent domain and take the property.

  2. Linda Reynolds
    August 17, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    When typing in City of Fulton on the Oswego County real property it returns 159 properties … some are vacant land and then you have Northbay campgrounds and the YMCA … but there are also homes that either people are living in with the city listed as the owner or vacant, run down, boarded up homes that are city owned and are in need of demolition … if people are living in them, are they paying rent and their own water/sewer/trash? … if yes, where is the money going to? … if no, why not? …

  3. IM Watching
    August 18, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Not sure if this is the answer to the problems the city has with these homes, first if the banks are in fact paying the taxes and mowing the lawns, the city doesn’t have to expend those monies.

    If there are in fact close to a hundred that the taxes are being paid on presently is the city really ready to take over and lose that revenue?
    Yes, finally they now have realized they need to put properties they own in a public auction to get them back on the tax rolls, but these properties go for “fire sale prices” and the city makes it so complicated for the new owners or investors to meet the high requirements for compliance, that buyers are reluctant to invest.

    The city has got themselves into a mess here because they tried to cover this up, remember the Woodward Home Flipping venture that collapsed a few years ago that is when this all started and properties were kept off the tax rolls longer than they should have.

    Read the article, $150,000 grant if Fulton receives most is going to software upgrade to keep track of these properties, can’t you look on the real property website and see how many are bank owned!

    This present government needs to be replaced and elect people with fresh new ideas. IM watching closely the young mayor in Oswego who is tearing apart all the “good old boy clubs” that have been ripping off taxpayers for years. Maybe that is what is needed here, a little fiscal responsibility by our elected officials!

  4. August 18, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    IM watching makes a very good point about what the Grant Money is going to be ear marked for. Computer Software Upgrades ..For that reason alone I don’t feel Fulton will get this Grant. The only way they will receive that grant is if that is the key factor in this grant. This will again be another Grant that the city will fail to receive. Oswego is getting Millions and we are trying to get the scraps left by them. So sad… Also we shouldn’t need to up grad our software to find out the info they want to find out. The county already does that for us. We can’t win the big money with a small money mentality ….we don’t have bad people we just have the wrong one’s.

  5. Jessica Naioti
    August 18, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I have emailed the Mayor of Fulton a few times over the past few years interested in City owned properties to buy and fix up, live in, etc…I have never gotten an answer or direction.
    Furthermore, I have very little interest in purchasing a home in the city with some of the highest taxes in the States.
    Which could be because of so many homes that are vacant…
    Which could be because the City has no administration of managing the homes they do have….

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