September 29, 2008

New law would encourage owners to renovate blighted buildings

The city is pondering a new law that aims to help get blighted property renovated by offering owners as assessment freeze so that improvements don’t push up property taxes for five years.
“I’d like to get it on the books as soon as possible and get using it,” said Guy Morin, the city’s building official.
Dale Clift, the city attorney, said the proposed ordinance “would encourage people to purchase” buildings targeted by the city for code and blight problems and to fix them up.
“It gives the developer a break,” Clift said, that should encourage more people to overhaul decrepit housing.
Karen Pio, the president of the Greater Bristol Property Owners Association, said the proposal “can only help Bristol” because the city is not collecting taxes on structures when they are “in a blighted state or abandoned.”
“This is a great ordinance and it will help the city,” said Police Officer Tom Lavigne, a former city councilor who spends most of his time on code enforcement issues.
Lavigne said that that with recent changes in the city’s statutes, code enforcers can find problem properties and take action to crack down on them.
But, he said, the proposal to waive property taxes for five years “makes us come full circle” because it provides a carrot rather than just a stick for officials to use to try to make improvements.
Pio, who owns rental property, said the proposed law would give “more incentive to buy and fix” houses that need a substantial amount of renovation.
Clift said it may serve in many cases to put blighted buildings “back on the tax rolls” instead of sitting empty and racking up unpaid tax bills.
Morin said he hopes that if the City Council adopts the measure, it will help “avoid demolitions” of structures that might be saved if there was something to help owners repair them.
Passing the law, Morin said, would tell people “we want you to invest in our city.”
Officials said that qualifying for an assessment freeze will require property owners to make a substantial investment.
“Not just paint a little polish,” Morin said.
City Councilor Kevin McCauley said that officials have put a lot of work into the proposed statute.
“Obviously, the goal is to raise the bar,” Lavigne said, with the intent of improving the quality of life in town.
City Councilor Craig Minor said that the measure may help “to preserve affordable housing” for residents.
The Ordinance Committee is likely to approve the proposal in October, with city councilors probably enacting it the following month. It may be on the books by December.

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Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does that mean if I let my property deteriotate and then fix it up I get rewarded?

Sounds a little like the Federal bailout bill.

Anonymous said...

What a dumb idea! All this will do is encourage absentee landlords like Leer Group to buy up more property and then give them a tax break for not being owner-occupied. I could see the merits of the ordinance for owner-occupied property but that is not what it seems to be according to the blog. It will essentially reward the very people that have helped contribute to all the blighted property around town. And it punishes all of us who keep our homes and property looking nice. I hope my council man votes NO on this.

Anonymous said...

I read the Waterbury Republican-American. It's the best paper around.

Anonymous said...

Christ, please give the city officials credit for a smidgen of intelligence. The code enforcement guys know who the slumlords are and their silent partners, and they aren't going to ever get recommended for the program.

Anonymous said...

11:21

So now it is a judgement call.

Isn't that how politics is played?

Yeek!!!

Anonymous said...

If they know who the slumlords are and the slum lords are in violation, what are they doing about it?

Anonymous said...

Give the break to first time home buyers and owner occupied properties.

Otherwise, forget it.

Anonymous said...

and if people can't afford to fix up thier home due to losing thier job or an illness...what then?

All this is is a group of idiots trying to keep thier overpaid jobs.

Bristol is a slum, be proud you all made it that way.

Anonymous said...

Pio, the city DOES collect taxes, no matter the condition of teh property.

Anonymous said...

Slumlords beware!!!!