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Erie County Legislature pushes for power to shorten the life of 'zombie homes'

The Erie County Legislature has signed on to the push to reduce "zombie homes." On Thursday, the Legislature unanimously adopted a request to the state that would enable local leaders to shorten the foreclosure timetable for vacant and neglected homes owned by banks.

"When they're underwater, they're destroying neighborhoods and making people unsafe," said Legislator Patrick Burke, D-Buffalo, who sponsored the local resolution.

His district includes South Buffalo and Cheektowaga, where the issue is of particular concern, he said.

Abandoned properties currently undergo a two-year foreclosure process, during which banks take over the properties but may neglect property maintenance. The Legislature's home rule request asks the state to permit Erie County to reduce the foreclosure period for vacant homes from two years to one year. Occupied properties would be exempt from the shortened timetable.

The resolution supports State Legislature bills sponsored locally by Assemblyman Mickey Kearns, D-Buffalo, and Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma.

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