BY TAYLOR BENNETT, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about “special” legislative sessions in the media – or convenings of the WV Legislature that happen outside of the regular 60-day session that happens toward the beginning of each year.
Topics covered during these special sessions are set by WV’s governor. This means that, generally, both legislators and citizen lobbyists can have a pretty clear idea of what will be on the agenda.
For anyone who doesn’t have a bill on the agenda, now is the time to build the support that you’ll need to get your bills passed in 2020.
WV’s Abandoned Properties Coalition uses the power of coalition-building – bringing together diverse stakeholders who share a common vision – to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing WV communities today: the thousands of persistent vacant and abandoned properties across the state.
The 2020 session might seem like a long way off, but the coalition already has their priorities laid out. Here’s what the teams are working on this year:
- Land Reuse and the Right of First Refusal: Land Reuse Agencies (LRAs) play a key role in the ability of West Virginia towns and cities to fight abandonment, dilapidation, and blight. One of the abilities that allows LRAs to do this is the chance to have “first dibs” on properties valued at $25,000 or less, or which have been condemned, and are up for sale at the County Tax Sale. If we don’t act quickly, LRAs will lose this ability following the 2020 session.
- Vacant School Buildings:Vacant and underutilized schools present a challenge for almost every community. But, what if there was a plan for these buildings before they were ever decommissioned? Our goal is to make sure that county school boards have the resources they need to plan ahead so that these buildings are able to continue to bring value to their communities.
- The BAD Buildings Impact Fund: There are an estimated 63,700 vacant, abandoned, or dilapidated structures in West Virginia. That’s a huge challenge and, if created, the BAD Buildings Impact Fund could help. By offering funding for demolition, this is one policy change that stands to have both short and long term positive impacts on communities across the state.
The coalition is setting these priorities early because they want to make sure that everyone who is interested in these issues is able to join in the conversation.
To get connected to the Abandoned Properties Coalition teams, reach out to me – Taylor Bennett – at firstname.lastname@example.org.