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Thread: Eliminating destablilizing / nuisance uses

  1. #1
    Cyburbian chasqui's avatar
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    Eliminating destablilizing / nuisance uses

    Here is a tough question. How do you go about eliminating a use that is impeding the redevelopment of an area? I have come up with three solutions, all poor. They are:
    1. Make the use non-conforming if it isn't already. Eventually (maybe) not being able to expand their use will make them want to leave.
    2. Eminent domain. If this is truly a blighetd area teh city can step in and take this property.
    3. Offer the landowner gobs of cash.

    Of course there are downsides to these three approaches. With #1, they may "never" leave. With #2, you will probably have a wonderful (and expensive) court battle which ends up costing more than #3. The downside to #3 is, of course, no one has gobs of cash on hand.

    Anyone heard of a creative solution?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Can you be more specific about the nature of the probem use? Albuquerque has a nuissance abatement law which they have used to acquire properties and, in some cases, raze them. However, the nuissance centers on illegal activity such as drugs, gun crimes or prostitution. It has mainly been exercised with respect to the sleazy motel factor, but can also apply to residential properties. Certain conditions must be met before it can be enacted.

    They also sometimes designate lands as "blighted" in which case the City forces a sale of land which they purchase for future redevelopment purposes. This is usually abandoned and polluted industrial land (which may or may not be "brownfields.") The City did this to facilitate the construction of affordable housing through the Sawmill Community Land Trust:

    http://www.sawmillclt.org

    As the Land Trust is able to finance the next phase of construction on what was (you guessed it) a series of old sawmills, the City sells the property back to them at cost.

    The City (and the State) do not support takings for the purpose of increasing the tax-base (ala Kelo v. New London).

    I know some cities are more assertive about acquiring properties for back taxes and liens, reselling them with incentives in areas where they are promoting redevelopment. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh come to mind. You used to be able to buy a property in Philly for $1 and were given a year to knock it down or bring it up to code. This is how the Village of Arts and Humanities in north Philly got going.

    Albuquerque is reticent to do this as we (and the State which outlines allowable takings)are long on property rights. We are voting today on a bond issue that would establish a land bank so the City can purchase vacant properties and resell them at cost to developers interested in the kind of development the City would like to see in specific redevelopment areas (mostly housing infill). It locks in the land values in areas where prices are on the rise as a way to provide incentives down the road. This and the "blighted" acquisitions can only happen in designated Metropolitan Redevelopment Areas, however, which must have an MRA Plan and be voted on by the City Council.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  3. #3
    Cyburbian chasqui's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    Can you be more specific about the nature of the probem use? Albuquerque has a nuissance abatement law which they have used to acquire properties and, in some cases, raze them. However, the nuissance centers on illegal activity such as drugs, gun crimes or prostitution...
    I am working on a project in an area where residential and industrial uses met. The industrial uses, now declining, were predominantly clustered and there is a plan in place for these areas. However, a few small lots remain within and adjacent to the residential areas. They are home to junked-car lots and small repair facilities. These aren't exactly illegal activities and, although well screened, they don't make for great neighbors. Some are legal-nonconforming while others are (for now) appropriately zoned. Without some sort of impetus it seems unlikely for these uses to change.

    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    You used to be able to buy a property in Philly for $1 and were given a year to knock it down or bring it up to code.
    Same thing in Dayton, Ohio. Good programs, although, as you said, the city does have to aquire the land (tax liens, etc).

    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    We are voting today on a bond issue that would establish a land bank so the City can purchase vacant properties and resell them at cost to developers interested in the kind of development the City would like to see in specific redevelopment areas (mostly housing infill). It locks in the land values in areas where prices are on the rise as a way to provide incentives down the road.
    Good Luck! Sounds like a good idea.

    Thanks for the Sawmill Community Land Trust link (http://www.sawmillclt.org)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chasqui View post
    However, a few small lots remain within and adjacent to the residential areas. They are home to junked-car lots and small repair facilities. These aren't exactly illegal activities and, although well screened, they don't make for great neighbors.[/url])
    In Bernalillo County, during a road widening and improvement project, they assessed an old gas station-come-repair shop and found extensive environmental contamination in the ground that had leached under neighboring properties. The County condemned the property and remediated it (trucking out the soil and backfilling with "clean soil").

    Could you do some sort of environmental assessment to see if this is a problem? If there are rotting cars, a fix-it shop and housing next door, this could actually be a legitimate public health issue. The area I mentioned is a semi-rural setting very close to the water table and where a fair percentage of people still have domestic well water supplies.

    Just a thought...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    So in other words....what was a permitted use (junk car facility, etc), something that needs to be put somewhere, is no longer popular becuase someone realized we can make more money selling houses in the neighborhood? Do I have that right?

    I say shame on you, and whoever developed this plan. Did you really expect these industrial uses to just up and walk away at the same time??

    Good luck in court, you're gonna lose.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian chasqui's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    So in other words....what was a permitted use (junk car facility, etc), something that needs to be put somewhere, is no longer popular becuase someone realized we can make more money selling houses in the neighborhood? Do I have that right?
    Well, not quite right. These uses grew contemporaneously in a neglected portion of a city. The automorive / junk car areas were never too popular or unpopular locally - they just were. But, as practicioning planners, we know (or should) that these uses DO pose a real land use conflic, and its not just a matter of "developers wanting to make more money".

    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    I say shame on you, and whoever developed this plan. Did you really expect these industrial uses to just up and walk away at the same time??

    Good luck in court, you're gonna lose.
    I didn't write the plan or develop it. In fact, I think that a big part of the problem was the failure to plan. I'm here trying to help this area. Shame on someone? Yes, maybe, but that doesn't help the area. So, what I am looking for are any innovative ideas to AVOID court / litigation.

    As land prices start to climb thsese things have a way of "working themselves out" - the marginal uses are displaced by ones that are of higher value. Fine and dandy when land prices are on the rise. Given redevelopment efforts in the area, this is/will likely be the case, but I am still brainstorming and asking for ideas on ways to better that trasnition, and jumpstart the process short of the typical land use battles we all have seen. Maybe the collective brain has heard of something.

    Luis

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    So basically the plan was written in hopes of driving up land cost to force these uses out.

    That's one way to do it.

    The uses arent popular, nor do they mix well w/ residential uses, and they dont anywhere, but they have to go somewhere. Should have planned a commercial buffer or light indy, rather than smacking these 2 uses next door to each other.

  8. #8
    BANNED
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    Site development

    Quote Originally posted by chasqui View post
    Here is a tough question. How do you go about eliminating a use that is impeding the redevelopment of an area?

    Anyone heard of a creative solution?
    I have an idea. I need the street address of the site in question. I could then recommend whether or how it should be developed.

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