Burns votes to fight blight in communities

Bills will support, enhance landbank programs

HARRISBURG, April 26 – In a bipartisan vote to support communities struggling against blight, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, today joined other lawmakers in approving two bills that support land bank programs in Pennsylvania – and will help community revitalization efforts.

“Abandoned buildings are not a Republican or Democratic issue, but a concern affecting everyone in a community,” Burns said. “Abandoned buildings lead to criminal activity and lower the property values of hardworking families. Today I cast two votes to help give communities the tools they need to combat blight, and to help revitalize towns and boroughs across the commonwealth.”

Land banks are nonprofit entities formed to purchase, temporarily manage and dispose of blighted properties or vacant land. These organizations are one tool that municipalities can use to facilitate the return of vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties to productive use.

Bills approved today in the House included:

The Roofs Over Heads Act (H.B. 2209) would make it easier for existing Land Banks created by legislative action to get the job done to revitalize and protect their communities. Under this bill existing Land Banks could team up to turn vacant blighted property into places for homeless individuals to live, and all Land Banks would be exempt from Realty Transfer Taxes so more money can be reinvested back into the community projects.

The Land Banks Lead the Way Act (H.B. 2210) would add landbanks to the list of entities eligible to petition the court to become conservators of blighted property, giving even more flexibility to the groups looking to truly invest in their own community.

In the past Burns has supported other legislation to combat blight and abandoned properties in communities, including Act 58 of 2020, which amended the Urban Redevelopment Authority Act to allow municipalities of all sizes to create a redevelopment authority; and Act 33 of 2018 which allows local governments to adopt an ordinance that designates its local redevelopment authority to act as a land bank.

He also worked to secure a coveted Keystone Opportunity Zone for Cambria County, which allows for state and local tax benefits within specific underdeveloped and underutilized areas of the state.