Newark Mayor Ras Baraka testified in Trenton to support the Municipal Land Banking Bill.
The land banking bill would create an online database of properties owned by municipalities making them available for purchase.
“Many of which are sitting idle, pay no taxes, diminish property values, bring blight to neighborhoods and worse, creates an atmosphere for crime and violence,” Baraka told the Assembly Appropriations Committee. “In the city of Newark alone we have over one-thousand vacant and abandoned properties. While these properties have been abandoned for years, the consequences are unbearable for the residents that live around them.”
Currently, the Newark City Council must pass a resolution to sell property. Mayor Ras Baraka says land banking would be the key tool to start revitalizing underdeveloped parts of the city.
“Communities can acquire and maintain vacant and abandoned properties in a strategic and systematic fashion and use them in ways that ensure they are redeveloped and reused for long term community benefit. They can help towns and cities assemble and restore problem properties. This can put them back on the tax rolls, revitalize neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for residents and taxpayers,” Baraka said.
Other state’s including New York, Ohio, and Michigan have established land banks. Former Governor Chris Christie previously vetoed the bill twice, citing a lack of transparency and oversight.