Rockford City Council to grant 8 homeowners vacant properties in ‘Mow to Own’ program

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The city of Rockford is looking to rid the area of some problem properties and it could pay off for neighbors. It’s thanks to a city program that was passed several years ago.

If you live next door to a Rockford owned vacant lot, you could own it. It’s part of the city’s “Mow to Own” program. Homeowners or neighborhood non-profits earn equity credit by maintaining rundown properties.

Monday night, Rockford’s Finance and Personnel Committee recommended to reward eight different properties through the program.

City leaders believe it’s another tool to fight blight in Rockford.

“This is a mechanism that we can get it into neighborship property owner’s hands and cared for and become an asset to the community,” said City of Rockford Community and Economic Development Director Karl Franzen.

According to the city of Rockford’s website, homeowners get a $25 credit every time they mow the grass or remove leaves or snow.

“It’s two years, regardless of the size of the property,” said Franzen. “It’s going to work out to about $450 or $500 of sweat equity that you’re putting into that property before you take the title for it,” Franzen said.

City officials say there are more than 50 lots that qualify for “Mow to Own.” Application through city hall is required. They hope residents take advantage of it.

“There’s a lot of people out there right now who are mowing the property next to them because they don’t want it to look bad,” said Alderman John Beck, (R)-12th Ward. “In many cases, they probably feel like it’s almost part of there property already.”

Mary Yoho’s Avon Street property is next door to a city-owned vacant lot. For the last three years, she and her husband have maintained it as part of “Mow to Own.”

“They send you a sheet, a log sheet, for when you mow or shovel or whatever. It’s just as simple as that really.”

“By having two years of mowing and maintaining, we’re really showing that these are responsible property owners and they’ll be maintained and become a community asset into the future,” Franzen said.

Yoho’s lot now is now home to a small garden.

“We might leave it like it is,” Yoho said. “It’s easy to mow because it’s just back and forth and there’s nothing on it. We planted peach trees.”

Next Monday, city council will give the final vote for the approval of the proposed sales of the eight lots.

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