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State can do more to help communities with blighted properties

A bill in the state Legislature to create a statewide database of abandoned properties could not only help communities in the furthest corners of the state, but help communities here in Lycoming County and in our region.

The intent of the legislation, as detailed in an article in Monday’s Sun-Gazette, is to make it easier to identify the owners of properties in such a state of disrepair that the pose risks to neighborhoods.

“Blighted properties are easy targets for absentee landlords to simply hold the properties for future sale without rectifying the blight,” state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said.

Blighted properties are a serious problem, not only in the state’s larger municipalities but right here in Lycoming County.

They discourage investment and job creation. They send an inviting message to the criminal element that authorities are indifferent and slow to respond. They lower the property values of hard-working neighbors. They pose safety risks for curious children.

Their negative impact can be seen in the smallest villages and the largest cities.

Anything the state can do to help communities confront negligent owners of blighted properties, the state should consider, improve and act upon. The statewide database seems to be a good next step for our legislators, and hopefully leads to more steps to address this problem.

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