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Kittanning purchases 7 properties from Armstrong County to 'clean up our town'

| Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, 1:26 a.m.

Seven vacant and dilapidated Kittanning properties — which Armstrong County had owned through non-payment of taxes for years — have been purchased by the borough.

“It is not in our interest to get into the real estate business — we just want to clean up our town,” Council President Randy Cloak said. “Our hope is to have the properties razed and put up for sale. We would like to recoup our costs and have them put back on the tax rolls.”

The properties, which include three vacant lots and four with condemned homes, were purchased for $1, plus $55 in deed recording fees, for each.

One of the blighted houses, at 1600 Johnston Ave., has been sitting vacant for decades.

“Now we can call the shots on marketing the properties. Before, we couldn't do anything with them,” Councilman Richard Reedy said.

All of the properties have been through at least two tax sales, with some that have been sitting unsold for 50 years or more, said Jeanne Englert, director of the Armstrong County Tax Claim Bureau.

In many cases, properties don't sell because the land is listed as having depleted minerals and the cost of demolishing existing buildings makes the deal unfavorable.

“I think this is a good way for the borough to get rid of blighted property,” Englert said.

Reedy had asked council earlier this month to consider using a portion of the 2014 Community Development Block Grant money to pay for razing blighted buildings in the borough.

However, no decision was made because those funds won't be available for at least another year and council has yet to determine if and how it will pay for the demolition of the newly purchased properties.

The purchase was recorded on Friday, one week ahead of the county tax sale, which will be held at 8 a.m. Thursday in Courtroom 1 of the Armstrong County Courthouse.

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