County to Address Blighted Properties

The Clearfield County Board of Commissioners named John A. Sobel its chairperson. Commissioner Joan Robinson-McMillen will serve as the board’s vice chairperson. Pictured, from left to right, are Sobel, Commissioner Mark B. McCracken and Robinson-McMillen. (Photo by Jessica Shirey)

CLEARFIELD – At this week’s work session, the Clearfield County Commissioners approved a comprehensive strategy to address blighted properties and an agreement with the Gulotta Group LLC in the amount of $6,000.

The county’s Needs Assessment and Market Study of 2011 identified a need to develop a comprehensive strategy. The study resulted in 32 of its 51 municipalities counting 323 blighted structures, said Lisa Kovalick, community development specialist.

Blighted properties, she said, reduce property values and the tax base. Further, she said they discourage new investment and increase the demand for police, fire and code enforcement services.

“Also . . . blighted properties that are near municipal boundaries affect the adjourning one,” said Kovalick. Blighted properties, she said, have increased with the increase in the foreclosure rate and the downturn in the economy.

“There’s a need to develop a coordinated, comprehensive approach to assist municipalities in dealing with this problem,” she added. To more effectively address the problem, she said the county needs to educate municipalities about the tools available and communicate information about blighted properties to their owners.

According to Kovalick, the county will begin to take steps in reducing blight through its agreement with the Gulotta Group. She said the group will assist the Clearfield County Planning and Community Development Office in working with municipalities and county officials to develop a comprehensive blight prevention and remediation strategy for the county.

One of the goals, Kovalick said, is to reduce the number of blighted properties over three to five years. Commissioner Mark B. McCracken noted it would especially help smaller municipalities, such as Coalport, Irvona and Mahaffey, in addressing their blighted properties.

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