Warren wants to sell empty lots

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published November 16, 2012

WARREN — Looking for a bigger piece of land in Warren? Depending on where you live, the city may have “a lot” to offer.

On Nov. 13, Warren City Council member Kelly Colegio asked for an update about efforts to sell off vacant, tax-reverted land; properties, she said, that cost the city money to maintain and often sit empty as blighted neighborhood eyesores.

To alleviate the city of its burdens, and to possibly give homeowners a little wider space of property, she asked the council to consider options for selling empty lots to adjacent homeowners, when possible.

“The city pays like $23,000 a year to mow all these awkward, strange little lots all over residential areas,” Colegio said last week. “If a homeowner can get their hands on it and just do something with it, I would be in favor of that.”

Colegio suggested offering the properties for next to nothing, just to get them off of the city’s books.

Warren Planning Director Ron Wuerth said the city has sold such properties for years and that there are currently about 70 parcels that must be put in a database.

Wuerth said selling the land is the easy part; legally joining or transferring the properties, he said, is another matter.

The city’s Planning, Community Development, and Economic Development departments work together to facilitate the transfers, he said.

“We want to move them on, let’s put it that way,” Wuerth said. “It’s an opportunity for the homeowners to expand their properties. I encourage all the homeowners who abut these properties to call the Planning Department and discuss this with us.”

The council voted 7-0 in favor of what could be a renewed effort to cut ties with empty parcels that require mowing or snow removal.

Council President Cecil St. Pierre proposed the formation of a committee to deal with the city’s property issues. He also suggested creating a “homeowner tax abatement” as a way to help encourage residential growth by reducing costs for established homeowners.

The council also voted 7-0 to approve Colegio’s motion to ask Warren’s Water Department to turn off water service to documented vacant homes.

She said the city currently has about 5,000 vacant residential dwellings.