New blight law raises questions in Youngstown, Warren - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

New blight law raises questions in Youngstown, Warren

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

There are concerns about what exactly a new statewide ban on plywood for certain vacant properties will mean for the Mahoning Valley. One nonprofit in Warren is worried that it could cost them astronomically more to board up homes but a state lawmaker says that won't be the case.

It is a sight all too familiar in the valley- boarded up vacant homes. Now a new state law, the first of its kind in the country, bans plywood and requires clear polycarbonate.

"I think for a city like Youngstown at first blush for right now it's not a huge cost increase to us, down the road it might be if we think we're required to follow it," explained Youngstown Mayor John McNally.

The law refers to expedited foreclosures only.

"When a municipality or I think a county wants to do a quick take of a property and foreclose on it comes in specific situations so that lessens the imapact as well to a city or a municpality or a county," he described.

State Representative Michelle Lepore-Hagan,  a co-sponsor of the bill, said that this will not affect the work done by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) and Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP). She told 21 News that the law only applies to expedited bank foreclosures.

Her thinking is that this helps property values for homeowners who still live in that neighborhood.

"Clear boarding will better secure vacant properties and reduce some of the visual blight associated with vacant homes," said Lepore-Hagan. "I believe this new law will contribute in a positive way to the tremendous progress being made by the Mahoning County Land Bank, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC), City of Youngstown and others in restoring and revitalizing our neighborhoods."

Matt Martin, TNP executive director, said that the law is too ambiguous and needs to be clarified.

He stated that the law does not help neighborhoods in Warren where 40 percent of some neighborhoods are vacant.

Martin is worried that the organization may have to shell out 10 times the amount it costs to board up a house with plywood. The cost would go from $250 per home with plywood to $2500 per home with clear polycarbonate, according to Martin.

If the organization had to face that price increase, it would mean 200 to 300 less houses would be demolished in the city each year.

There are still a lot of unknowns on what the law means for cities and land banks looking to fight blight.

McNally said that they are going to be looking into the law, which takes effect in 90 days.
 

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