Rockford leaders consider a new path in the fight against blight across the city. The Forest City is home to dozens of eye sore properties. In an effort to address the problem, city officials are proposing to create a vacant and foreclosing property registry.
“[It can] help the city keep track of properties that are vacant,” said legal director Nicholas Meyer. “[Properties] we know are a problem for us, they’re a hazard.”
Alderman Joseph Chiarelli says the registry will be a way to hold property owners accountable. Adding many times, abandoned properties become the scene of crime.
“The fires that are happening at these properties,” said Chiarelli. “We need to get a handle on making sure we have account of who owns them or how many there are in the city.”
“We do get reports of them,” said Meyer. “We try to stay on top of them, but its hard as a city our size to keep track of all of them.”
Meyer says they also want to keep track of properties in foreclosure, adding the most cost affective way to attack blight is by stopping it before it starts.
“We know with our history that those properties have a tendency to become vacant, and then become blights and drag down property value.”
Chiarelli says prevention is the key to breaking the cycle.
“We need to make sure that we get a handle on this,” said Chiarelli. “We need to be proactive on these properties, not reactive all the time. I think this is a good step towards it.”
The City has already been combative towards properties like the former Essex building on North Main and the former New Fellowship Baptist Church in the Midtown District.
“This is part of our overall strategy to continue being aggressive,” said Meyer. “To get properties back on tax roll, to get rid of blight and to make our neighborhoods better for everyone.”
The registry will be discussed at the Code and Regulation meeting on Monday. Then on January 14th, will be up for a vote at full council.