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Politics & Government

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki proposes more severe fines for blight

Larry Nagengast
Delaware Public Media

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki is proposing new legislation to crack down on owners of vacant and blighted properties in the city.

Wilmington has approximately 1,650 vacant properties, and Mayor Purzycki is proposing a package of four new ordinances to help bring that number down.

The biggest deficit in our enforcement policy today is: the most we can do is give someone a $50 fine, and it’s a $50 criminal fine. It’s just a slap on the wrist,” said Purzycki.

The new legislation would shift the enforcement of housing code requirements from criminal to civil, so the city could charge offenders with higher fines—ranging from $100 to $1,000 based on the severity of the violation.

Purzycki says some homeowners in Wilmington are sitting on vacant properties, waiting for housing prices in the area to go up before selling.  His plan would force them to register with the city, and create more severe penalties for leaving them vacant or in disrepair.

These properties will now be assessed $500 for one year, after two years one thousand, for three it’ll be five thousand. It really starts to hurt at $5,000—after four years even ten thousand.”

The legislation is awaiting approval from city council. Purzycki says it is cost neutral.

In a statement, Purzycki added: “Blighted and vacant properties weaken neighborhoods, encourage criminal activity, inhibit economic development, undermine otherwise stable real estate markets, and encourage irresponsible property owners to continue their detrimental behavior.”

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