West Newton may join county land bank
West Newton could get rid of some dilapidated and blighted buildings, and return those properties to the tax rolls by joining Westmoreland County's new land bank program, a county official told borough council on Monday.
“It's a problem in all of our towns. Unfortunately, we all live beside one or drive by one,” April Kopas, executive director of the county's redevelopment authority, told council during its workshop meeting.
West Newton has a chance to remedy some of the blighted, tax-delinquent properties in the town by becoming one of about 10 municipalities that would be part of the initial communities to participate in the land bank. Kopas said she has worked with Pamela Humenik, borough secretary, and has identified potential targets for the program.
Council President George Molovich said he was in favor of the idea. Council may consider bringing the issue of West Newton joining the land bank to a vote at its March 10 meeting, but that depends on a consultation with Charles Wade, the borough's solicitor.
Under the land bank program, blighted properties owned by people delinquent on their taxes could be acquired, then sold or demolished and the land resold, Kopas said. In some cases, a municipality would leave a site clear to create green space, Kopas said.
Kopas said she hopes to launch the program in the spring and is looking to get approvals from municipalities this month.
The easiest way for the land bank to acquire properties would be through a judicial sale, whereby the program would acquire the parcel when back taxes and liens are cleared, Kopas said. Buying the properties at a sheriff's sale would be more costly because of the likelihood that liens would be placed against the properties, in addition to the back taxes, Kopas said.
The redevelopment authority has invested $50,000 as seed money to start the program. Any municipality that joins the program would invest $5,000. That money would help cover the cost of legal fees and environmental remediation at the site, Kopas said.
To make the program work, a municipality must agree to give the program half of any property tax realized by the property sold through the land bank for five years. The county has agreed to that stipulation and the third taxing body, the school district, must do the same, Kopas said. That money would restock the program to acquire more properties, she said.
Kopas said she plans to talk on Thursday to Sewickley Township supervisors about joining the program. After those discussions, Kopas said she will approach the Yough School Board to present the program to the school directors.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Ligonier Valley takes proactive financial steps amid state budget stalemate
- WCCC fraternity helps fallen Ligonier officer’s family
- Westmoreland County Common Pleas candidates differ on judicial retirement age
- Mt. Pleasant board looks at refinancing
- Jeannette considers trash fee increases
- Police, the Diamond top Ligonier Borough issues
- West Newton officials, code officer clear the air
- Greensburg council OKs purchase of firetruck
- State woos Kennametal with $1M in incentives to stay in Pa.
- 4 vie for 3 seats on Latrobe City Council
- Greensburg grocer Charley esteemed for his charity work