Lexington city leaders hope to bring new life to vacant residential structures. Chip Crawford with the Vacant Property Review Commission delivered a report to Urban County Council members Tuesday. Crawford says one recommendation calls for increasing property taxes for houses in persistent disrepair. "We sort of view this as the last step, this and eminent domain as the last potential step, we hope that we've been able to come up with incentives and other opportunities way before it gets to that one year to two year period of being vacant or blighted," said Crawford
The Vacant Property Review Commission developed a list of close to 300 vacant residential homes in the Lexington area. Crawford says steps should be taken to persuade property owners to renovate their vacant houses. "Just getting them with the right people who might maybe want to buy the property. Identifying who the actual owners of these properties are. Incentivizing them with tax credits or differing kinds of financial incentives. Maybe, better financing options," said Crawford.
Commission Vice Chair Martina Ockerman would like to see some vacant properties re-purposed for affordable housing through rehabilitation, redevelopment or partnering with the Affordable Housing Trust Fund program.
Council Member Diane Lawless says vacant housing is a concern which can impact neighbors. "It brings down the quality of life, the sustainability, and property values," said Lawless.
Lawless believes increased fines through code enforcement may work to get blighted properties cleaned up. Council is expected to act on one or more of the recommendations when it returns from summer break in August.