Gov. Tom Corbett ceremonially signed a bill Jan. 17 that gives cities a new tool to fight blighted properties.
House Bill 1682, also known as the Land Banks bill, would allow municipalities in Pennsylvania with a population of 10,000 or more to create public land bank authorities to acquire and manage tax-foreclosed and abandoned properties for the purpose of preparing them for reuse.
A grouping of two municipalities with populations less than 10,000 also would be permitted to establish and maintain a land bank under the bill.
Additionally, the law states that properties acquired by a land bank must be used to promote and encourage local growth and community development.
"Of course, this legislation provides new legal parameters in Pennsylvania to strengthen our work in stabilizing and revitalizing neighborhoods that are distressed by blighted and abandoned properties," said Bryan Davis, executive director of the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority.
Pennsylvania has roughly 300,000 vacant and abandoned properties. Of those properties, more than 50,000 are in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, according to a news release from the bill's sponsor, Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia.
"These land banks can bring those properties back to life, making them community assets instead of local hazards," Corbett said in a separate release.