Stefano Introduces Bill to Aid Communities in Combatting Neighborhood Blight

Seeking to and help communities remediate properties that have fallen into disrepair, Senator Pat Stefano (R-32) has introduced legislation, SB 667, that will provide local redevelopment authorities with more authority and resources to combat neighborhood blight.

Stefano’s legislation would grant redevelopment authorities the same powers currently allotted to land banks through the Pennsylvania Land Bank Act, enabling them to take an active role in rehabilitated blighted properties and neighborhoods.

“Blighted, abandoned properties can be a danger to the public, increase crime rates and reduce property values,” Stefano said.  “This legislation will give communities another tool to effectively address a growing problem in many areas of our state.”

He said a land bank is an independent public entity created by a municipality to expedite the process of acquiring and rehabilitating blighted, dilapidated, and abandoned properties. In many instances, land banks and redevelopment authorities work in unison to eliminate blight in communities.

“While land banks have been crucial in this fight, many of the Commonwealth’s counties have active redevelopment authorities which have been performing these same functions since 1945 but do not have specified authority under Pennsylvania law.” Stefano said.  “Granting redevelopment authorities the same powers as land banks would allow them to acquire tax delinquent properties at a judicial sale without competitive bidding.”

The legislation would also enable redevelopment authorities to discharge tax liens on blighted properties, and to share up to 50% of the real property taxes for five years after conveyance of authority-owned property. It would also eliminate the need to form an entirely new entity in these municipalities; which can be redundant and cost-prohibitive, given the lack of resources and funding for these initiatives.

“Under my proposal, land banks will continue to remain a successful and useful tool for municipalities in combatting blight,” Stefano said. “This bill simply provides another tool for municipalities with active redevelopment authorities to use in eliminating blight, rehabilitating properties and improving neighborhoods and communities while saving them money and avoiding costly and timely duplication of services.”

Stefano noted that this bill was the result of a constituent meeting. “The Fayette County Redevelopment Authority came to me with very compelling data showing the increase costs some redevelopment authorities have incurred in order to setup land banks. This bill provides a common sense solutions to the problem they presented.” 

CONTACT: Ben Wren (717)-787-7175