Abandoned land targeted in Allentown

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By Mark Rosman
Staff Writer

ALLENTOWN – Borough Council members are expected to introduce an ordinance during a future meeting that will, if adopted, provide them with the legal authorization they need to take action on abandoned properties in the community.

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A discussion about whether to proceed with such an ordinance took place at the council’s meeting on May 9.

Borough Attorney Greg Cannon informed officials and members of the public that the terms “vacant” and “abandoned” are not interchangeable as they relate to properties. He said Allentown has a vacant property ordinance in place that grants certain rights to municipal officials in specific instances.

Cannon said the adoption of an abandoned property ordinance would permit officials to create a list of abandoned properties and to subsequently pursue a tax sale on a property or to declare it a blighted area.

Enacting the ordinance would give officials power to take action on an abandoned property, such as using eminent domain (condemnation) to take the property from its owner and/or rehabilitating the property, the attorney said.

Cannon said the owner of an abandoned property must be served with a notice by the municipality regarding any action that is being contemplated on his property.

The consensus among council members was to move forward with the introduction of an abandoned property ordinance.

In other action at the May 9 meeting:

• Mayor Greg Westfall and council members thanked the youngsters from Cub Scout Pack 180 for their recent efforts to clean up Heritage Park. The officials told the boys they appreciated their community service.

• Council members adopted an ordinance which extends the repayment period from 20 years to 30 years for sewer utility improvements. The extension of the payback period amended an ordinance that was adopted in 2016.

• Councilwoman Johnna Stinemire reported that representatives of Allentown met with their counterparts in Upper Freehold Township to discuss options relating to the provision of emergency medical services in the two communities. She said plans are for officials from the two municipalities to meet again for further discussions on the matter.

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