A Frederick alderman has ideas for how the city can strengthen its focus on addressing blighted and vacant properties.

Alderman Josh Bokee sent an email Thursday to other aldermen and Mayor Randy McClement with two proposals that he wants to talk about at a workshop.

1. The city should create a Blighted-Vacant Properties Review Board, Bokee wrote. The board would “provide a consistent, sustained focus on successfully turning around identified troubled properties,” he wrote.

There would be seven people on the board: two residents, two real estate representatives, one real estate/commercial attorney, one nonprofit or community development representative, and one banking/finance representative. These people, along with a few city staff members, would meet at least quarterly.

The board’s responsibilities would include reviewing the city’s blighted properties list to identify whether the city’s approach is working and what else it could do, and making recommendations on which properties should remain on the list, be removed or added. The board may also monitor the status and condition of condemned and long-term vacant properties, Bokee wrote.

“Staff is in the trenches doing all the day to day work and I think it is helpful sometimes to have another set of eyes that are not in the day to day to look at it comprehensively to see are we where we need to be and how we can move forward,” Bokee said.

2. The city should create a long-term vacant properties registration fee, as the city has no way to track vacancies, and this would give the city a better grasp on the issue, Bokee said. Long-term vacancies can hinder the quality of life and economic well-being of neighborhoods, negatively effect surrounding property values, and place burdens on the use of city resources, Bokee wrote.

The owner of a property that is vacant for three years or longer would be required to pay a fee to register the property and file a plan with code enforcement for how the building(s) will remain properly secured. The fee for the first year would be $150; $500 for the second year; and $1,000 for any years after that. If the owner does not register the property, the city could issue a notice of violation, and, after that, a citation with a fine of $250, which would then escalate.

I asked Bokee if he was a committee guy, as he has now proposed two, one which the mayor created — the Economic Development Advisory Committee. It is not so much that he is a committee guy, he said, but rather “it is helpful to bring local experts together to identify what the challenges and opportunities are and put forward a plan to implement it.”

Youth resource fair Saturday

Parents and children can get information on programs and services for children in the county at the Youth Resource Fair on Saturday.

The free fair will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Francis Scott Key Mall. The services include after-school programs, child and family services, dropout prevention, educational programs, hotlines and crisis services, job assistance, mental health, mentoring programs, substance abuse treatment and volunteer opportunities.

The event is hosted by the Frederick Police Department, with the Frederick County Juvenile Delinquency Prevention and Policy Board.

For details, contact Michele Bowman, the police department’s community outreach specialist, at 301-600-2091 or mbowman@frederickmdpolice.org.

Send notes about your city government to Jen Fifield at jfifield@newspost.com.

(10) comments

MAVRICKinc7

What is is about governance cover stories that go around in circles for decades and always wind up back at the SAME POINT they started from decades ago. After 20 years of this torchered emotional rationale you would think the City already has the details to avert slum lord mentalities scattered throughout Frederick and Frederick County unless they have a vested interest not to do anything about blight other than advertise it through the FNP, two or three times a year for the last 20 years.

elymus43

This is business as usual for Frederick. Propose, study, poll, have meetings are all buzz words. In the end nothing will be done????

sevenstones1000

How about jailing the owners of blighted properties who do not either sell the properties or maintain them on a strict time schedule to be determined by the city. Jail. That ought to get their attention.

Dwasserba

A lot of thought went into this. Thank you.
I don't have high expectations for twice a year meetings and as noted below, all vacancies are not created equal so this has kind of a "can of worms" feel to it...

quemzeee2

Call Tamara Osteman. She represents the landlords Lobby in Washington, So far they have killed any attempts to increase anything here if Frederick county

quemzeee2

Vacant properties continue to cost tax payers money, vacant or not snow removal is paid by tax base.
Street lamps. Police observations all this is on my dollar.
Property tax is simply not enough. If your vacant property is not bussiness, or residental we all pay your bills.
And odly enough bussiness is the first ones screaming about taxes,, which they want more product out of

Hcilpbl

Fees for vacant properties? Seriously? It's seems as though you people think property owners enjoy owning a vacant property and keep it vacant just to spite you.

pixie-dust

It can be hard to ignore what my lying eyes tell me is true.

quemzeee2

Excellent work Mr. B. Very good start up proposals. I would hope we also studie other municiplaities that have delt with this issue. Minneapolis is one that comes to mind.

dcg326

More talk again ???Action speaks louder,

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