Authority to act as land bank

November 19, 2020 Cranberry Local News

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Vacant, blighted, tax-delinquent and abandoned properties in Butler County will go into a land bank operated by the county Redevelopment Authority in the interest of being rehabilitated into productive use.

The county commissioners Wednesday voted to designate the county Redevelopment Authority as the “land bank” for the county.

Wil White, county solicitor, explained some properties in the county repository will go into the land bank, so the authority can find buyers. “This does give us a little more flexibility and take some of the hassle out of (the) tax claim (department) because they are not set up to be marketing property,” White said.

He said anyone who may be interested in a blighted, vacant, abandoned or tax-delinquent property cannot buy a property through the county tax claim department, but can through the Redevelopment Authority.

“This is a way to get properties back onto the tax rolls and that's one tool we plan to use,” White said.

He said a state law passed in 2018 allows counties of certain populations, which includes Butler County, to forego creating a new land bank and allow them to use another entity to handle blighted properties.

According to the ordinance approved to designate the Redevelopment Authority, vacant, abandoned and tax delinquent properties impose significant costs on taxpayers by lowering property values, increasing fire and police protection costs, decreasing tax revenues and undermining community cohesion.

The ordinance states that anyone can submit recommendations concerning property that could be acquired and their proposed redevelopment uses for the property.

Leslie Osche, commissioners chairwoman, said the land bank move “fits in with our growth collaborative as we try to focus on neighborhood development.”

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Paula Grubbs

Paula Grubbs

Paula Grubbs is a Butler County native who has been with the Butler and Cranberry Eagle newspapers since June 2000. Grubbs has covered the Mars School District and Middlesex Township for over 20 years with the Eagle and her former employer, the Cranberry Journal. She also covers Adams Township, Evans City and Mars in addition to events and incidents throughout Southwestern Butler County as assigned. Grubbs has taken the lead at the Cranberry Eagle in reporting on shale gas development, which has been a hotly debated topic in the recent past, both locally and nationally. A 1979 graduate of Butler Senior High School and a 1994 graduate of Geneva College, Grubbs has won a Golden Quill and four Keystone state awards, plus an award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Grubbs enjoys following the Penguins, Pirates and Steelers, volunteers with the Connoquenessing Creek Cleanup each summer, and loves spending time outdoors and bird watching at her Penn Township home. Grubbs is the daughter of James R. Davis Sr., of Center Township, and the late Maxine Davis. She has two grown children, Jacqueline and Thomas.