Wilmington City Council members work to refine alternate blight legislation
The “Healthy Communities” subcommittee organized by council members Rysheema Dixon and Yolanda McCoy met for the first time Wednesday to discuss draft legislation that would crack downon vacant properties in the city.
Its authors bill it as an alternative to the anti-blight package backed by Mayor Purzycki’s administration earlier this year— which would have changed code enforcement for both vacant and rental properties.
Dixon says it addresses complaints from citizens. “Dilapidated property falling in, roofs all those different issues, or grass is too high, some of these other components that we have to continue to repair because we can’t find the landlords — so what we wanted to do was make sure that we can address a lot of those issues first,” she said.
Jeff Sheraton is a landlord who owns several properties in the city. He says he prefers the “healthy communities” legislation to the Administration’s plan, which would increase rental licensing fees for landlords.
“I think this attacks the actual problem—the actual problem is vacants.” said Sheraton. “I think the only place where it falls short a little bit is I really wish it did something to push the City’s vacant property issue along — the City-owned vacant properties I should say, whether it be the City or the landbank or any of the other organizations.”
City-owned vacant properties would be exempt from the draft legislation.
Subcommittee members ranged from housing advocates to real estate agents. They raised concerns about how long a property would need to be “vacant” before fines kick in under the draft legislation, when fined properties would be taken to sheriff sale and whether assistance for repairs could be included.
Dixon says she hopes to address some of these concerns in the legislation and introduce it to City Council Oct. 3.