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Economic Alliance forming groups to fight blight
The York County Economic Alliance is in the process of forming a committee to label properties as blighted and a separate authority to buy, develop and resell those properties.
Blanda Nace, vice president of community affairs for the alliance, told county commissioners Wednesday that his organization has been working on solutions to remediate blight in the county.
That work has led to the proposed creation of a Blighted Property Review Committee and a Land Bank Authority.
"The ultimate goal is to return vacant and tax-delinquent properties back to the mainstream real estate market," Nace said.
The committee, which Nace said could consist of three to eight members, would have the ability to designate an area as blighted. The authority, which Nace said could have five to 11 members, could initiate the process to purchase blighted properties, then redevelop and sell them to an appropriate owner.
Neither group would have the power of eminent domain, which allows a government agency to take private property for public use with compensation to its owner, but Nace said certifying a property as blighted allows the eminent domain process to begin.
Nace said labeling a property blighted does not reduce its property value, but he added that a property the alliance would consider blighted likely already has a reduced value.
Certain government redevelopment grants are enabled once a property is certified as blighted, he said.
Nace pointed to the rising amount of outstanding property taxes and fees that are owed to the county, school districts and municipalities. About $812,000 in property taxes still are owed from 2010, with $14.5 million still owed from last year.
Funding for the purchase of blighted properties would come from grants, loans and property sale proceeds, among other potential options, Nace said. The Redevelopment Authority of the County of York would handle the finances.
Nace said many municipalities have approached the alliance looking for help in dealing with blighted properties because they don't have the resources to deal with them. York City already operates its own Vacant Property Review Committee that can determine if a property is blighted.
The alliance would work directly with the municipalities, the county commissioners and the county planning commission in identifying blighted properties and taking steps to redevelop them.
"It could be that the best option is just knocking everything down (on a blighted property) and selling it to an adjoining property owner as extra yard space," Nace said.
The committee or authority could work with the property owners to help them find the necessary resources to eliminate the blight on their own, Nace added.
Commissioner Doug Hoke told Nace the commissioners would consider the creation of each group independently.