TOMS RIVER - Many Toms River homes left abandoned after Sandy will be demolished, and homeowners may be picking up the tab.
Officials say it will take action against nearly 200 properties identified by building inspectors as posing safety and health hazards and left untouched after Sandy.
"We were very reluctant to start signing complaints about people if they're down," says Mayor Tom Kelaher. "I don't want to be the one to step on their windpipe when they're down, but after a year now, it's really time we have to move into that phase."
MORE: Sandy Coverage
Attempts are being made to contact homeowners, but if they don't respond, Kelaher says the matter will go to court so demolition can proceed.
The township says it will try to recoup costs from FEMA and a lien will be put on the property for the extra costs.
Neighbors believe rentals are down because potential renters don't want to stay next to a house that's a safety hazard for their children.
The township council says removing structurally unsound homes will help and has voted in favor of seeking bids for a contractor to do the demolitions.