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 email@example.com.