The Allentown Redevelopment Authority (ARA) is authorized to acquire Blighted Properties, using eminent domain. A property must meet one (1) or more of the twelve (12) criteria of blight, as defined by the Redevelopment Urban Law 1712.1.
Working closely with the City's Bureau of Building Standards and Safety, ARA brings qualifying properties before both the Blighted Property Review Committee and the Allentown City Planning Commission. These two entities first determine that the properties meet the criteria of blight. After an appeal period, if owners fail to cooperate with City inspectors and make necessary repairs, ARA brings the properties again to the above two entities, to officially certify the property blighted. Once a property is certified as blighted, ARA has the ability to file the deed of taking to start the acquisition, if necessary.
This Process is lengthy and typically takes about one year to complete. Any time during this process, the owner will have the ability to correct the violations. Once the owner receives an official Certificate of Occupancy from Building Standards and Safety, the property will be removed from the condemnation list.
ARA is hopeful that many of the properties will be brought into compliance and removed from the process.
The 12 abbreviated criteria are as follows:
- Any premises because of its physical condition is declared a “Public Nuisance” as per local housing codes.
- Any premises because of its physical condition is considered an “Attractive Nuisance” to children such as unsafe structures, basements or fences.
- A dwelling that it dilapidated, unsafe lacking equipment necessary per housing code and “Tagged Unfit.”
- A structure that is a “Fire Hazard” and dangerous to the safety of persons or property.
- A structure “Lacking Utilities” plumbing, heating or other facilities.
- A Vacant “Unapproved Parcel of Ground” which has is neglected and has been a place for debris or rodents.
- An occupied property that has been “Tax Delinquent for 2 years."
- A property which has “Not Been Rehabilitated with in 1 year of Notice to Rehabilitate” from the code enforcement agency.
- An “Abandoned Property.”
- A property that has “Defective or Unmarketable Title.”
- A property which has “Environmentally Hazardous Conditions.”
- A property having “3 or more of these characteristics”; (i) doesn’t meet current use, occupancy or fire codes; (ii) unsafe accessways; (iii) being served by an unsafe street or right of way; (iv) violates property maintenance codes; (v) is vacant; (vi) is located in density area of at least 1k person per sq mile, or with more the 90% of the units being non residential.
Blighted Property Review Committee
The Blighted Property Review Committee is a 5-person/2-alternate board with representatives from City Council, the Allentown City Planning Commission, the Redevelopment Authority, and two Mayoral appointments. (Mayoral appointments must live or work in the City of Allentown.)