RIDGWAY---The Elk County Planning Department is hoping that a House Bill 21-88, passed last Febuary, will help them rehabilitate and sell abandoned and blighted properties that they say have becons a problem in the county.
Ridgway residents say it's been an issue for years, and it's time something is done about it.
"I think they should definitely tear them down. It's an eye-sore," said Ridgway resident Chris Placha.
Ridgway officials say they were denied a $200,000 grant from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and that code enforcement fines don't seem to be doing much good.
"If the person has no money to fix the property in the first place, you can fine them all you want and they're not going to pay it because they don't have the money to pay it, or they'd fis the property up," said Jodi Foster, who's heading up the planning department committee.
The committee will explore legislative options for gaining ownership of these properties so they can be rehabilitated and sold, and the county can begin collecting taxes on them again. One of these options is House Bill 21-88, which sets standards for abandoned properties.
"The judge would say, 'Okay, this property fits all those criteria,' Foster said, "They would then appoint a conservaor, and the conservator has the power then to act as a property owner, so they can do what it takes to wither rehab that property or tear it down, and then we can either sell the property that's left or resell the home to get the property back on the tax rolls."
But officials aren't just concerned with houses, they also plan on fining residents for excessive trash and unregistered vehicles on their property.
Foster said some of the houses are also a safety issue and may be structurally unsound.