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Councilor Baker, Rep. Walsh aim to tackle blighted properties with new legislation

Posted by Patrick Rosso  March 1, 2013 01:01 PM

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The City Council has passed a resolution filed by City Councilor Frank Baker in support of giving the city more control in addressing blighted properties.

The state legislation, House Bill 1881 “An Act to Enable Municipalities to More Effectively Address Blighted Properties,” was filed January in the Massachusetts’ House by Dorchester Representative Marty Walsh.

“Abandoned properties are a major concern in my district,” Baker said in a statement. “Some of the vacant properties in my district have been sitting empty for years. These properties not only impact property values, but also the quality of life of nearby neighbors who have to live day in and day out with the sight of these blighted properties and the problems that come with them."

The city, through its Inspectional Service Department already has some power to regulate and require property owners to clean up their sites, after an ordinance was passed by the City Council in 2008.

The 2008 ordinance requires property owners to register vacant or foreclosing residential properties and name a local individual or company that will maintain the properties. The 2008 ordinance also included guidelines for potential fines that could be levied against property owners.

The new legislation, filed on behalf of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, however, would give ISD more tools, Baker's office said.

The resolution would allow the city to place more fines on properties that fail to clean up after being served by the city and allows the city to seek relief from the courts.

Bakers office said this resolution is especially important to the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, and East Boston, which have some of the highest foreclosure and vacancy rates in the city.

In a 2011 study conducted by the city of Boston, it found that, “70 percent of petitioned properties and 70 percent of foreclosure deeds were located in five neighborhoods: Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Mattapan, and Roxbury.”

“The neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, and East Boston are most affected by problem properties and the city needs more tools to deal with this ongoing problem,” Baker said in the release. “This legislation is a good start and will help address some of the issues we are seeing in our neighborhoods. I hope the state legislature is able to pass this proposal in a timely manner.”

House Bill 1881 is currently in the committee on Municipalities and Regional Governments.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.


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