VINELAND — The city administration is preparing new legislation that local officials said will allow them to force improvements to be made more quickly at abandoned properties.
The legislation would be crafted to develop a data base that would make it easier for the city to find the property owner or other entity — such as a bank — responsible for the property in question.
The move follows a directive issued last month by Mayor Ruben Bermudez, who ordered a citywide crackdown on code violations ranging from property maintenance to vendor permits. Bermudez listed civic improvement as a major part of his plans when he took office in January.
City Solicitor Richard Tonetta said the new legislation should also relieve the Public Works Department from being a “personal landscaper” for the property owners or banks responsible for rundown abandoned properties here.
“Public Works is bare bones right now,” he said.
Currently, the city takes action against private properties that are in a state of disrepair. The city essentially bills the property owner in the form of a lien against the property.
Tonetta said while the city generally recoups that money, the process often does not solve the problem.
For instance, Tonetta said, the city will cut grass on private property if the owner does not comply with a city order to do the work in 10 days. City Council must then approve the lien against the property once the work is done, he said. The grass needs to be cut again by the time the process is complete, he said.
“It’s a couple of weeks, and grass not cut every week is a problem,” he said.
Tonetta said he is reviewing property maintenance codes from other municipalities. The administration hopes to get its new legislation before City Council in a few weeks, he said.
City officials want to do a thorough job on the proposed legislation to make it legally enforceable, Tonetta said.
“It’s one thing to adopt an ordinance,” he said. “It’s another thing altogether if we can’t enforce it.”
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