A public notice in The Daily Item this week listed a dozen blighted properties the Sunbury Redevelopment Authority (RDA) plans to take through eminent domain process. It is another proactive approach to rebuild the city and its tax base in ways that can benefit all city residents.

The announcements — “declarations of taking” — were made after the properties were declared public nuisances and no steps were being taken by owners to address the problems.

According to authority solicitor Briana Apfelbaum Kula, the declarations highlight several key aspects of the city’s blight fight: “It informs the public that the city and the RDA are continuing the fight against blight in Sunbury and it puts property owners on notice publicly — serving as a deterrent to others to not allow their property to fall into blight conditions,” she said.

Perhaps just as important, Apfelbaum Kula said the notice “whets the appetite” for potential buyers, who could eye the locations at auction. Those owners could get the properties back up to code, on the tax rolls for the city, Northumberland County and Shikellamy School District.

In the last 11 years, more than 100 properties have come on and off the nuisance list, according to city officials. At least 50 vacant, abandoned and blighted properties were acquired and sold through the eminent domain process. One property previously taken over by the authority was later sold at public auction for $2,100 and the new owners then paid $12,013.23 for previous expenses on the property. That’s $14,000 on one property.

Do the math and see what sort of financial impact that could have on Sunbury’s finances.

Owners do have options. They can challenge the declaration within 30 days, according to the public notice. Perhaps the challenge signals a step forward for the owner as well, offering a boost to rehabilitate the property.

It is our hope that this success story and others like it continue to spread across the city. Some of these properties, we hope, can present similar opportunities for entrepreneurs in the Valley. Their interest, while underlyingly financial, is also about restoring the city. 

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.

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