Fighting blight: Recourse for neighbors
Financing a proposed program to demolish blighted properties in Westmoreland County by increasing home buyers' and sellers' filing fees by $15 addresses a need: namely, the estimated 900 blighted properties in 22 municipalities that participate in the county's land bank.
Abandoned properties — some owned by out-of-state residents — bring down property values if not entire neighborhoods. A process for how this demolition funding (estimated at $330,0000 in 2018) would be spent still needs to be determined. Meanwhile, the proposal before county commissioners addresses an issue that has dogged public officials for years.
As we've opined, it's despicable when property owners' irresponsibility gets dumped on the public to clean up. Indeed, it's mind-boggling that a property on the scale of the former Monsour Medical Center in Jeannette would be abandoned and deteriorate over the years to the point where it posed a public safety risk along Route 30. Ultimately its $1 million demolition was financed through a series of state and federal grants. Today the vacant lot is the site for a planned commercial development.
Clearly owners who abandon their properties should be pursued by all legal means possible and forced to pay for their disregard. Pennsylvania's laws should be reviewed and, where necessary, strengthened to expedite cases against property dumpers.
In the meantime, neighbors shouldn't have to contend, oftentimes for years, with the rats' nests of miscreants' negligence.