Bill to Fight Blight Heard in Senate

A bill aimed to give local governments a tool to fight blight was heard in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee yesterday. Senate Bill 947, sponsored by Senator Ronald N. Young, authorizes local governments to fine owners of blighted properties for failing to fix or sell the property within an allotted time frame. As reported in the Frederick News-Post:

During the hearing, Young noted that the city of Frederick has been dealing with some vacant properties. Last week, the city issued $10,000 in citations to the owners of the old Asiana restaurant, a vacant building on North Market Street. Young’s bill defines a blighted property as one that has been vacant for more than a year, has prompted nuisance complaints, doesn’t meet local housing code standards and has collapsing or failing exterior structures. Buildings damaged by fires or floods are exempted.

Upon notice from a local government, property owners would have 120 days to fix their buildings or six months to sell, under the legislation. Governments could grant deadline extensions on a case-by-case basis. However, if building owners do not make the necessary improvements, the government could impose fines of three times the property tax amount, according to the bill.

While local governments have other tools for fighting blight, Senator Young believes the bill may expedite the process and save governments from lengthy court battles.

For more information, read the full article in the Frederick News-Post.