Land Bank bill to tackle blight in Pa. (WPVI)

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Land Bank bill to tackle blight in Pa. (WPVI)

KENSINGTON – January 17, 2013 (WPVI) — Community blight across Pennsylvania may soon be a thing of the past.

Governor Tom Corbett signed the “Land Banks” bill on Thursday, which aims to get rid of rundown, abandoned and often dangerous properties.

Corbett was joined by State Representative John Taylor in the Kensington section of Philadelphia for a ceremonial bill signing. Proponents say the bill could help save declining neighborhoods.

“Vacant and abandoned properties are a major drain on our city and neighborhoods,” Taylor said.  “They cripple property values, attract vermin, and when their owners are delinquent on taxes they force the rest of us to pay what they won’t.  This law will help the city reclaim these properties.”

Corbett said the legislation enables any county, city or borough with a population of 10,000 or more to “form a land bank to acquire and manage tax-foreclosed and abandoned properties for the purpose of preparing them for reuse.”

Properties acquired by a land bank would be used to promote and encourage local growth and community development, Corbett said.

State Representative John Taylor, a sponsor, says quick turnaround could save neighborhoods.

“Among the benefits, land banks would keep tax-foreclosed properties on the tax rolls through revitalization, and that is a direct investment in our neighborhoods,” Taylor said.

Pennsylvania has about 300,000 vacant and abandoned properties, Corbett’s office said. Of these properties, 35,000 are in Philadelphia, 19,000 are in Pittsburgh, and the remainder are scattered throughout the state.

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