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Forward Township discusses blight mitigation strategy

FORWARD TWP — During their meeting Tuesday, May 14, the township supervisors discussed the possibility of the township entering into the blight mitigation program run by the Housing Authority of the County of Butler.

According to township manager Tom Hartwig, supervisors and residents have noticed an increasing number of blighted properties in the township.

“Supervisors have noticed structures unoccupied and falling apart,” Hartwig said. “Some residents expressed concern over this issue and impact on their property values.”

The Butler County Blight Mitigation Initiative, as the program is officially known, allows the Housing Authority to purchase properties which are considered “blighted” and have them demolished. According to the authority’s website, a property is considered “blighted” if it is unfit for habitation, structurally unsound, has no utilities, is crawling with vermin, and/or has become a home for vagrants.

Hartwig said such properties are “scattered throughout” the township.

“You're talking about properties that really are blighted properties,” said township solicitor Rebecca Black. “These are not safe housing situations. They’re not sanitary. We’ve had a few houses where the roofs have collapsed.”

Black said to take part in the initiative, the township would have to enter an inter-municipal cooperation agreement with the housing authority. Under the blight mitigation program, the housing authority would cover the cost of the demolition of any properties it considers “blighted.”

However, Black said Forward would be the one to incur the cost of notifying the property owner and posting the necessary notices.

“The program is pretty good,” Black said. “It doesn’t cost us very much at all, considering the total value of the services being provided.”

While no official action was taken, Black said during Tuesday’s meeting she has reached out to the housing authority to express interest in having the township take part in this program.

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