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16Aug

Lancaster Officials Discuss Methods to Alleviate Blight with State Lawmakers

By: Sam Janesh, Lancaster Online

Published: August 15th, 2017

Lancaster County officials said Monday they are taking steps to reinvigorate blighted and abandoned properties even as they continue to face challenges with the speed and funding of those efforts.

In a public meeting organized by state senators, they discussed what’s been working well — like local reinvestment and land bank programs — and what has the potential for blight — like the recently vacated Giant grocery store in Lancaster city.

“(The Giant) could sit there for a significant period of time and gradually become a blighting influence, even though it’s being maintained and the taxes are paid,” said Randy Patterson, director of economic development and neighborhood revitalization for the city.

Patterson, in the meeting held by Republican Sens. Scott Martin and David Argall, evoked the Giant scenario to request that state lawmakers look into ways that would allow municipalities more flexibility in addressing vacant lots that have a “significant economic or quality-of-life impact on a neighborhood.”

One way to do that, Patterson said, is to define “blight” in state law and make the definition flexible — something that Argall, the Senate Majority Policy Committee chairman, admitted is more difficult than it appears.

Another is to establish a timeline that would allow a municipality to take a vacant property through eminent domain, Patterson said.

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