Atlantic County is about to "put its foot down" in dealing with so-called, "zombie properties," abandoned by their owners or foreclosed by banks and left to become a blight on neighborhoods.

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Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson says they lead the nation in foreclosures and cannot afford to see property values decline around the abandoned homes and lots, between squatters and break-ins. In order to combat the program, the county is seeking proposals for the implementation of a countywide registration program that will allow multiple agencies to share the responsibility of overseeing how the properties are handled.

"It is a problem, besides just the unsightly aspect," he said. "Whether they are private or a bank, staying on them to make sure they are maintained properly...who owns these properties, what they are doing with them."

He says as it stands now, from town to town in Atlantic County, everyone from code enforcers to city clerks have to stay on top of these properties.

"It is something that we should not have to do. But it has gotten out of hand," Levinson said.

Levinson said overseeing these properties will not cost individual towns in Atlantic County anything. Rather, there would be a countywide program that will not burden taxpayers.

"What we did is we had a presentation for all municipal leaders and anybody in the community who was interested, and how a countywide registration program would work," Levinson said. "Everyone seemed to be extremely interested in it, especially when you make it very clear to cash-strapped municipalities that it is free of charge as far as the taxpayers are concerned."

The deadline for is October 23rd. Levinson says anyone with a proposal can call 609-343 2390.

"We do believe that this is something that is much-needed and long overdue," he said.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor at New Jersey 101.5.

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