Sellersville is moving forward with plans to form a Blighted Property Review Committee, which will work in conjunction with a local redevelopment authority to see derelict properties improved by owners or entered into condemnation.
Borough Council voted unanimously on Sept. 9 to approve an ordinance that legally establishes the committee.
“Having this committee will allow the borough to use the services of the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority to address blighted properties within the borough,” said Borough Manager David Rivet.
The committee will consist of the president of Borough Council, another member of council, a member of the Sellersville Planning Commission, a professional from the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority, and an individual designated by Sellersville’s mayor.
Under Pennsylvania law, the committee is empowered to identify whether properties in the borough meet the legal definition of blighted and then recommend that the redevelopment authority get involved to take steps to correct the situation.
If a property meets the statute definition of blighted, the redevelopment authority has the power to instruct the owner to make upgrades that bring the property back into a proper state. If the owner refuses or fails to act, the authority can condemn the property through eminent domain.
“We had discussions with the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority about options for addressing blighted properties in the borough” and felt this was the best way to proceed, Rivet told the Herald.
Properties that meet the legal definition of blighted include, but aren’t limited to, dilapidated dwellings that are unsanitary, unsafe, vermin-infested or lacking in the facilities and equipment required by the housing code of the municipality.
Other examples of blight include any premises in a physical condition or use that is regarded as a public nuisance at common law or has been declared a public nuisance in accordance with the local housing, building, plumbing, fire and related codes. Abandoned, vacant properties can fit the bill, too.