Crafton manager proposes committee to target blighted properties
Crafton leaders are planning a more proactive approach to reducing the number of vacant and blighted properties.
Borough manager Robert Callen is spearheading an effort to form a vacant- and blighted-property review committee to better look at options for dealing with those properties in the community. He envisions the committee including people of varied backgrounds.
“We need a group to help us think through and guide us in different strategies,” he said. “We have some types of people identified now, but it needs ratified — a banker, a real estate person, a legal expert, an architect.”
He said 53 properties in the borough are blighted or abandoned.
It's a problem in most communities, said Cassandra Collinge, manger of housing development at the Allegheny County Economic Development Office. The office runs the county Vacant Property Recovery Program, which takes blighted properties and resells them to applicants for a preapproved use. Municipalities must apply to be part of the program.
“Unfortunately, most municipalities have blight,” she said. “Some communities have more than others, and blight can look different in different communities depending on codes.”
She said while her office is not familiar yet with Crafton's committee, the recovery program encourages municipal officials to find new ways to deal with vacant and blighted properties.
“We're seeing a lot more municipalities interested in finding new ways to deal with the issue,” she said.
A similar committee is being formed in Munhall but also is in its infancy. Crafton code-enforcement officer David Cannon said he hopes the committee will begin meeting in January and go from there.
He said there about 300 vacant properties in the borough. His goal for the committee is for the borough to take over the properties through eminent domain and auction them off.
“If we keep tearing down houses, we won't have any tax revenue left,” Cannon said. “Most of them are structurally sound; they just need maintenance on them.”
But the process of getting from blighted or vacant to restored or sellable is arduous, Callen said.
“The legal process could take the better part of four or five months,” he said.
He said he hopes to have the borough's committee work with the county redevelopment authority and vacant property recovery program. Forty communities participate in the recovery program, including Carnegie, Collier, Green Tree, Heidelberg and Scott.
Heidelberg Borough Manager Joe Kauer said officials there have a good partnership with the county program, which it has been a part of for eight years.
“In this time period through this program, Heidelberg was able to take ownership of six vacant lots,” he said. “Of the six, we were able to partner with the county again and build two new homes … and four other property owners were able to expand their side yards through acquisition of the neighboring abandoned property.”
He said Heidelberg does not have a vacant-property review committee.
Carnegie Borough Manager Stephen Beuter said he would like to see Carnegie pursue a review committee similar to Crafton's.
Carnegie has about 30 vacant or blighted properties in the borough.
Collinge said while she does not know the trends of vacant and blighted properties in the suburbs, innovative thinking can help communities find new ways to find solutions.
Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Megan Guza to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.