Committee Approves Blight Bill

The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee approved legislation today that would help municipalities prevent blight and remediate abandoned properties.

Senate Bill 1291, sponsored by Sen. James J. Rhoades (R-29), would hold property owners accountable for the costs to secure, remediate or demolish blighted structures. The bill would also expedite the process of prosecuting owners of blighted properties and give municipalities the authority to go after the financial assets of negligent owners.

"When a property falls into a dangerous state of disrepair, the local taxpayer usually ends up footing the bill," Rhoades said. "My bill would hold landlords accountable when they allow their property to become an eyesore and a danger to the community."

Senate Bill 1291 would expand the ability of redevelopment authorities to assist municipalities with blight remediation. The bill also takes steps to prevent foreclosed and bank-owned properties from becoming blighted by requiring mortgage lenders to maintain properties where a default occurs until there is a new owner.

In addition, the bill would mandate that property owners bring any property they own that has serious code violations into code compliance before obtaining any municipal or state permits or approvals for any other property they own in the Commonwealth. The legislation would create a code violations registry to allow municipalities to determine if an applicant has any pending code violations in other parts of the state.

Rhoades' legislation was based on the findings and recommendations of the Blight Task Force, a statewide coalition of housing and municipal organizations dedicated to tackling the problems of blighted and abandoned building across the Commonwealth.

Senate Bill 1291 now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Comments

Marcia L. Neil said…
The 'chemistry of fear' should be investigated when addressing blight conditions -- in regions where arranged marriages are believed to be historically condoned, terrorism within the families can be fairly common.

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