In 2017, Pottstown Borough Council voted to establish the Pottstown Land Bank Board, with the intent that the Land Bank “use available resources to facilitate the return of vacant, blighted, abandoned and tax delinquent properties to productive use, thereby combating community deterioration, creating economic growth and stabilizing the housing and job markets in the Borough.”
I commend the Council’s establishment of the Land Bank, and I believe the Board will do wonders for the community. Recently, the Borough published on its website a draft of the proposed “Administrative Policies and Procedures” to be adopted by the new Land Bank Board in 2019, and invited public comment on the draft Policies and Procedures. You can read the draft Policies and Procedures here.
I reviewed the proposed Policies and Procedures and found what I believe to be glaring omissions and fundamental flaws in the document. Notably, the proposed Policies and Procedures grant the Board broad discretion in determining the eligibility requirements for potential purchasers of Land Bank property, seemingly on a case-by-case basis, and without providing strict, uniform guidelines for determining qualified versus disqualified buyers.
In addition, the proposed Policies and Procedures do not appear to require the Land Bank Board to adopt any procedure to ensure that properties purchased from the Land Bank are utilized to serve the Land Bank’s mission. Without any follow-up procedures in place, neither the Land Bank, nor the Borough, will be able to properly see to it that the property disposed of by the Land Bank does not remain vacant, blighted, and dilapidated.
Today I submitted my comment, addressing the above issues in greater detail, to the Borough Manager, as well as the Borough Council, and the Land Bank itself. You can read my full comment here.
I encourage all Pottstown residents to review the proposed Policies and Procedures, and to submit your comments to the Borough Manager, Justin Keller, at JKeller@Pottstown.org.