Purchasers of city-owned property could now face fees or the loss of their land if they fail to develop the property within an allotted amount of time.
That's according to a new resolution passed by the city council on Monday. Councilman Jim Boucher, who introduced the plan in the spring, said it's another strategy in the city's efforts to fight blight.
"The city has been doing this with some properties, but not others, and we want to make sure the city is doing it with all properties," he said.
Going forward, buyers of city property must come up with a plan to develop that property before or upon purchase, he said. Buyers would present their development plans to the city, and if they fail to stay on track, the city could levy a fee or revoke the deed, Boucher said.
A plan for development might include proof of financing and dates for construction.
"The city will only be doing [property] transactions based on there being a plan in place," Boucher said.
The resolution mainly concerns residential property owners, he said. Many of the city's vacant or deteriorating structures are private homes or multi-use facilities.
City officials assigned to deal with the matters would determine how harsh the penalties should be for property owners who don't follow through on plans.
Boucher said the idea was brought to him by a group of neighborhood revitalization zone leaders who complained of blighted buildings in their areas.
Hyacinth Yennie, president of the Maple Avenue Revitalization Group, said the new policy for property owners is necessary.
"There is no accountability," said Yennie, a South End resident. "You can come from out of town, buy property and sit on it for 40 years without doing anything. We want to make sure that when the city sells a piece of land to anyone, the person who buys it will have a plan for that property."
Yennie said the key to making Boucher's resolution effective is to ensure that it's strictly enforced.
Boucher said the city will begin enforcing the new policy within 30 to 40 days.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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