Saturday, July 26, 2014

Options For Addressing Unsightly, Dangerous Properties In Town


Earlier this week, the Times received a letter from a resident who complained about the condition of some unkempt properties in town.

Old complaint.  Old problem.  The question is: What to do about it?

We asked three friends of this blog what they would do -- if made king/queen of Dorchester for a day -- to address homes and commercial buildings in major disrepair? We received three different answers.  Here they are:

  1. Crack down more on negligent and/or messy property owners, using heavier fines and legal means.
  2. Create a "cost-share incentive program" to financially assist clean-up and restoration efforts made by low-income property owners.  (When we asked how this fund would be financed, the resident told us through donations, fundraisers, property tax revenues and perhaps a new sales tax.)
  3. Declare certain blocks in Dorchester as blighted and substandard, then use tax increment financing to encourage rebuilding and/or renovation.  (The person who gave us this answer said this could bring a new retirement facility to town, or maybe a new apartment building.) 

Readers of this blog might not be too familiar with tax increment financing, but it's a tool being used in many Nebraska communities to encourage the redevelopment of deteriorating, dilapidated properties.  Nebraska law permits its use. 

We aren't experts on tax increment financing, or TIF for short, but it seems to be a pretty straight-forward concept.  It takes property tax revenue that would normally be paid by developers (once a property is improved and valued at a much higher price) and diverts it back into their projects.  That money can even be used for for public infrastructure near the project.

Under Nebraska law, TIF projects may be commercial, residential, industrial, or mixed use.  After a project is approved by the town board, the locality authorizes the issuance of warrants or TIF bonds to undertake public improvements in the designated area.  

We are interested in what our readers would do to encourage clean-up and repair of dilapidated properties in town?

10 comments:

  1. I definitely like the idea of a clean-up fund. Of course that takes ambition and I personally don't see a like of drive from village leaders. Sorry , just calling em as I see em.

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  2. There is still one spot open on the board. If you have all the answers run for the board.

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    Replies
    1. Hey, Anonymous, you got your wish ---- a new candidate has filed for town, I'm told.

      -Wilber Wonderer

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  3. I hope we get some new blood in some leadership positions, its too bad more young people dont volunteer to run for elected positions of responsibility.

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  4. To all of those that are wanting "new blood" and leaders that will do something. Why is there only one new person signed up to run for village board? Where are you all hiding?

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    Replies
    1. THey are all to scared to run. they know most people here like things just the way they are and we dont want some fancey pants telling us to clean up are yards to thier standards or that we gotta pave or put up new houses

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  5. thay know they will get thier butt kicked

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  6. Interesting conversations, just one question? Why is everyone anonymous or wondering in Wilber? If there is a problem with the way things are being run, don't be shy, speak out about it or even do something about it. But it is hard to take anyone seriously if they won't even use their names in a public discussion of the issues.

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  7. There is a certain degree that people are willing to appease the masses. I am a property owner in Dorchester and have been hassled. I've applied and paid for a building permit to appease what they say is wrong, in turn I was denied and lost a $75 application fee. There is no reason to ask a person to do something then prevent the ability to follow through. This is America right? Let me be free and stop with the dictatorship.

    -Nate Hier

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    Replies
    1. A property owner in Nate's vacinityAugust 9, 2014 at 10:37 PM

      Nate, I respect your opinion as well as your right to own property. You are correct -- this IS America, which is a republic. This means we vote for people to represent us. The majority in this town, like most other communities in America, have voted for people who represent their views and their standards. This includes the belief that there should be a basic standard for the upkeep of properties, so that that run down homes/yards/lots don't threaten the health and safety of the public, or ruin property values of others residing here. Sorry, but just because you pay taxes or hold a deed doesn't mean you're free to keep your property looking like a hog yard. No way, man. That has NEVER been the case, anywhere in this great country of ours. Your neighbors have rights, too. This is America, after all.

      P.S. - It's offensive to anyone who has ever lived under a "dictatorship" to use that term in a great country of freedom like ours. You need to get to know some elderly Jewish people, or perhaps some older Russians or North Koreans. I'm sure they would laugh at your use of the term because you received a letter from the town ordering you to clean up your mess.

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