Westmoreland commissioners poised to create land bank
Westmoreland County commissioners are poised to approve creation of a government agency that will purchase and rehabilitate blighted properties.
Officials on Tuesday said they will vote this week on an ordinance that authorizes the formation of a countywide land bank designed to return real estate to the tax rolls.
“It's an opportunity to address blight and repositioning blighted or tax-delinquent properties to get them under control with a goal of redeveloping them,” Commissioner Ted Kopas said.
The ordinance, slated for a vote on Thursday, would designate the five members of the county's redevelopment authority board as the land bank's board of directors.
The redevelopment authority does not purchase property. Its primary focus is to oversee demolition of blighted structures and assist municipalities in redevelopment efforts, Kopas said.
Commissioners said the land bank will purchase and negotiate sales as well as assist in rehabilitating properties to make them more attractive to buyers.
The concept is to assist cities and other municipalities where there are large numbers of unusable properties, according to the commissioners.
The ordinance stipulates that the land bank will consider retail, commercial and industrial uses for properties as its first priority. Affordable housing, public spaces and conservation areas also will be considered for future uses of properties.
“Our goal is to get properties that are sitting fallow and put them to work,” Commissioner Charles Anderson said.
Commissioner Tyler Courtney said the land bank would augment a program through which tax-delinquent properties that have little or no value are placed in a repository of unsold land. The more than 500 properties now in the repository will be eligible for purchase by the land bank, commissioners said.
Privately owned, blighted properties that could be made attractive to buyers will be targeted for purchase by the land bank.
April Kopas, executive director of the redevelopment authority, said municipalities that participate in the program will be asked to donate $5,000 for the land bank's start-up costs. The authority has agreed to loan the agency $50,000 to provide its initial capital to make purchases.
The bank could generate its own funding by collecting half of all real estate taxes assessed on properties its sells for five years, according to Kopas.
Courtney said the land bank concept has been used in larger cities around the country. Legislation authorizing the creation of land banks in Pennsylvania was approved last year by the state Legislature.
“The goal is to truly set up a way, find a solution, to assist areas of blight,” Courtney said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or email@example.com.
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.
- K-9 officer Blek chosen as grand marshal of Fort Ligonier Days parade
- Bridge project forces closing of Route 30
- Members of North Huntingdon family attacked by rabid otter in Va.
- Hempfield Area considers renovations at high school
- Police: Florida man arrested for hitting, dragging Dunbar Township man with truck
- Heroin, marijuana found in car in Greensburg, driver arrested
- Former guard at Westmoreland jail focus of sex assault probe, DA confirms
- Junction project on 1-70 at Westmoreland exchange to begin
- Zimbabwe alleges Murrysville doctor illegally killed lion
- Blairsville man killed in single-vehicle crash in Derry Township
- Greensburg native runs unique catering service in California