It’s a seemingly endless battle in the City of Rockford — blight. The vacant and abandoned homes and business sit as a constant reminder of the past, while creating problems in the present. City aldermen voted on a few items they say will be major tools in combating blight and abandoned properties.
The Vacant and Foreclosing Property Registry got the green light at city council Monday night. Aldermen voted 12-1 to pass the measure, city officials say it’s time something is done about the eyesores across Rockford.
“[We need to] hold irresponsible property owners accountable for the properties that they own,” said city administrator Todd Cagnoni.
The vote came after long discussions between city officials on whether to add certain amendments. Those amendments would’ve addressed concerns from the Realtor’s and Apartment Association.
“What we’re trying to do is address items that lets property owners know that we’re not going after property that is well maintained, even if they’re unoccupied for a portion of time,” said legal director Nicholas Meyer.
Aldermen ultimately decided the priority was to strictly address the vacant and blight properties plaguing Rockford.
“Their interest are divergent from ours,” said 1st ward Alderman Tim Durkee. “We cannot continue with the status quo.”
City officials say letting a third party handle the registry will free up a lot of staff, but no word on what the registry is expected to cost.
“We know it’s not a money generating ordinance for the City of Rockford,” said 14th Ward Alderman Joseph Chiarelli. “We just want to be able to cover our costs, I think with this ordinance we’re going to be able to do a lot of good things for the city.”
Chiarelli believes it will be cost-effective in the long run.
“There’s fires in these vacant buildings, there’s so much graffiti and vandalism going on,” said Chiarelli. “It’s just causing chaos in our city, using up our resources.”
Aldermen also approved to be part of intergovernmental agreement to establish the Northern Illinois Land Bank Authority. The land bank would put abandoned buildings back into private sector hands, then it would be decided if that property should be removed or restored.