New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed a bill that could help revitalize blighted areas in towns and cities.
The New Jersey Land Bank Law allows municipalities to use public or nonprofit entities as an agent to acquire abandoned properties and revitalize them to benefit neighborhoods. Governor Murphy says it gives cities like Newark, Paterson, and Elizabeth another tool to reshape communities.
“To be able to aggressively deal with a particular property or neighborhood and much more quickly transform it and get that property and neighborhood into the hands that it rightfully deserved to be in,” he said before signing the bill in Newark’s west ward.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says it will help clean up neighborhoods while putting tax dollars back into municipalities.
“This gives us an opportunity to be very creative and imaginative and very expeditious about how we deal with these properties that have been this way for decades," Baraka said. "And not just spend millions of dollars of city money trying to keep property up, trying to board it up, trying to cut down unsightly weeds, trying to deal with rat infestation in communities and neighborhoods.”
Land bank entities will be tasked with maintaining a public online database of acquired properties, with community advisory boards overseeing land bank decisions. Michigan, Ohio, and New York State have used a similar approach to rebuild neighborhoods.