File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Town will enter into a contract with a Florida-based property registration company to implement its mortgage-in-default registry, a program adopted by the town in September in the hope of fighting blight from “zombie” homes.

The town board yesterday authorized the supervisor to sign an agreement with Property Registration Champions (PROCHAMPS) of Melbourne, Florida to operate and manage Riverhead’s mortgage-in-default registry.

The company pitched the idea to the town board at a work session last June. The town issued a request for proposals in November and PROCHAMPS was the sole responder to the request. The service comes at no cost to the town, since the company is paid out of registration fees imposed by town code.

The mortgage-in-default registry adopted last year requires a mortgagee (the bank or other mortgage holder) to register a property with the town’s mortgage-in-default registry within 10 days of the mortgagee declaring its mortgage in default. The registration must include the name and contact information for the mortgagee and its servicing company, as well as a local property manager in Suffolk or Nassau. The registration must also state whether the property is vacant. Registration is required semiannually thereafter.

The town code imposes a fee of $200 with each registration. The registration fees cover PROCHAMPS’ fees for its services, which includes building and maintaining a database of defaulted properties.

In other action yesterday, the town board:

  • Honored Joanne Fagan, an account clerk typist in the town attorney’s office, as employee of the quarter for the fourth quarter of 2018;
  • Accepted the resignation of George Bartunek from the Alternative Transportation Committee;
  • Set May 4 as “Riverhead Litter Awareness and Clean-Up Day” with a rain date of May 11;
  • Appointed members and officers to the Anti-Bias Task Force:Connie Lassandro, chair; Noreen LeCann, vice chair; Michele Lynch, secretary/treasurer; Marjorie Acevedo, Elizabeth Bertsch, Cindy Clifford, Angela Devito, Elizabeth Flood Keller, Laura Goode, Vivian Hobson, Andrea Hyndman, the Rev. Dr. Enrique Lebron, Sarah Mayo, Stephen T. Palmer, Roberto Ramos, Riverhead High School Council for Unity representative, Sister Margaret Smyth, Ethel Sussman, Lawrence Street, Jacqueline Tapley, Marilyn Banks-Winter, and the Rev. Janet Wright. Councilwoman Catherine Kent and Police Chief David Hegermiller (ex officio).
  • Reappointed members to the helicopter noise task force: John Cullen, Sid Bail, Connie Carlin, Ken Daland, Elaine McDuffee and Janice LaRuso.


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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.