Greensburg council hears pitch for Westmoreland County land bank |

Greensburg council hears pitch for Westmoreland County land bank

A Westmoreland County Land Bank brings a chance to remove dilapidated buildings and find another productive use for them, a county official told Greensburg City Council on Tuesday.

“It’s a proactive way to tackle slum and blight in the county,” said April Kopas, executive director of the county redevelopment authority.

Council expects to consider an agreement for the initiative, approved by the county commissioners in December, on Monday.

Greensburg, the county seat, would be an ideal entity to be among the first of 10 municipalities to join the program as part of a multi-phase endeavor, Kopas said.

For Greensburg to be eligible, the Greensburg Salem School District must agree to take part, she said.

Communities must contribute a $5,000 participation fee, which would be used mostly for legal and environmental issues. The redevelopment group has added another $50,000.

Properties can be obtained through donation, mortgage foreclosure, tax sales and other means, Kopas said. They then would be razed, rehabilitated, leased or sold for development.

Federal and state grants, communities and foundations fund the land bank, she said.

Participating municipalities and school districts must be willing to waive initial tax and municipal liens and realty transfer taxes. They also must share future tax revenue at 50 percent for five years with the land bank after the property is redeveloped and is taxable, according to a handout Kopas gave council.

Dilapidated properties lower neighboring property values and can pose safety hazards, Kopas said.

Knowledgeable people are involved in the land bank and can give a “more strategic” approach in planning how to “repurpose” properties, Kopas said.

In another matter, council expects to present a proposed ordinance on Monday that would prohibit parking along Cranston Drive in the Saybrook Village housing plan for four months.

Last month, residents presented a petition to council seeking to bar parking on both sides of the road between Dec. 1 and March 31.

Resident Jackie Lucchetti told council in March that parked vehicles on Cranston hinder snow removal by city plows and sometimes impede homeowners from getting out of their driveways.

All the homes on the stretch have a garage or a driveway where cars can park, but some residents opt to park their vehicles on Cranston, Lucchetti said.

City Administrator Sue Trout told council that 81 properties are along the stretch and the petition contained 41 signatures, a majority of property owners.

Council expects to vote on the proposal during its May regular meeting.

Bob Stiles is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media.

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