Illinois city passes ordinance to take over blighted properties
When Doris Turner, an alderman who serves the city of Springfield, Ill., roamed area neighborhoods during her election campaign, she was confronted with numerous complaints about boarded up, vacant and abandoned properties throughout her community. "It was one of the things that I heard the most about when I was going door-to-door," Turner said. Recognizing the strain of abandoned properties, Turner and a few other city representatives in Illinois' state capital sponsored a vacant property ordinance that passed the Springfield City Council this week. Under the new plan, there is a definitive timeline for how long property owners can hold distressed real estate that is not up to code. Turner says under the plan, a property is put on notice once it obtains six building code violations. "If it's not corrected in 180 days, then the owners have an extra three years," she explained. Once those three years are up, the city can move to foreclose if the property remains out of compliance. The ordinance changes the landscape in Springfield because it provides the city with a clear path to neighborhood restoration. "Before this ordinance was passed, there wasn't really any end game," Turner said. "Now there is the 180-day period, plus the three years and then something is going to be done." Still, Springfield considers it ideal to work with property owners first. "The city of Springfield doesn't want to be in the landlord business," Turner said. "We want to work with those property owners to get these properties in a state of habitation or to where they can do something with the properties." She added that other outside entities and organizations have expressed interest in helping the city handle abandoned real estate. Turner said the ordinance is designed to cure property issues that date back as far as the 1990s. "There have been some instances where we have seen properties that have been boarded up for 10 to 15 years," Turner told HousingWire. "As you can imagine that adds to a significant decline in neighborhoods." Write to Kerri Panchuk.