Bill Information: This bill would authorize a municipality to establish a Vacant and Blighted Buildings Registry and to require an owner of a vacant building to register it within 30 days after the building becomes vacant under specified circumstances. It would also require a municipality to consider specified factors in determining whether a building is a vacant building or a blighted vacant building, and would allow the municipality to set special tax rates for vacant buildings and blighted vacant buildings. You can download the text for SB0197 here.
Why This Bill is Important: One of the biggest obstacles to fighting blight is the ability of a municipal government to get a handle on how many vacant buildings and blighted vacant buildings are located within the municipality. This would go a long way towards alleviating that problem, and the special tax rates would help the municipality to recoup maintenance costs, along with the cost of added police and fire services.
Special Note: Baltimore City tried to enact a similar bill, but the Mayor urged the Baltimore delegation to kill it. Unfortunately, Baltimore City isn’t the only municipality in Maryland that has a vacant building problem. Some of our communities in Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore are dealing with the same, and should be allowed to deal with this problem via a registry and additional taxes on negligent property owners.
What You Can Do Now: No matter where you are in Maryland, contact your legislators, and ask them to support this bill.