LISBON —Lisbon selectmen approved a program last week that will allow the town to purchase distressed properties to speed up redevelopment of the buildings and get them back on the tax roll.

Eligible properties in Lisbon could include commercial or residential properties that have been vacant, abandoned, tax-delinquent, foreclosed, dangerous or blighted for an extended period of time that detract from the value of neighboring properties or threaten safety.

Under this program, town staff can buy, hold, maintain, lease, sell, demolish or rehabilitate an eligible property. Funding for the program will come from the sale of town-owned property as well as money set aside for land acquisition and downtown economic development.

Economic and community development director Brett Richardson said Lisbon would work with willing landowners to seek a resolution to hopefully clean up older properties and get them back on the market. Staff will seek approval from the council before working out land deals as part of this program.

Council chair Allen Ward pointed to the town’s purchase of the former Worumbo Mill property for $30,000 last year as an example of what the town can do with a land bank program. The town is planning to redevelop the four-acre property, which sits along the Androscoggin River near the intersection of Route 196 and Main Street in downtown Lisbon Falls. It has already been eyed by the town for additional parking.

Ward said he believes redevelopment of the Worumbo site will benefit the town once it gets a chance to capitalize on the opportunities there.

Ward said it is important that funding already set aside for this type of opportunity when they arise, “because they don’t come back around.”

Fern Larchoelle said he believes Richardson already has a good idea of what properties will be top priorities that the town needs to address.

“I think it’s a good opportunity,” Larochelle said. “As long as it is controlled by the council, I think there is a pretty good safeguard.”

The program was approved unanimously by the seven-member council.

Ward said he would also like to see the town move towards adopting a vacant building ordinance, adding that he feels the town has a least two buildings that would qualify.

“When do they get designated potentially dangerous? One could be close if not already there, at times,” Ward said. “We need to have these vehicles in place.”

 


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