Montgomery councilman proposes new program to clean up vacant lots

Montgomery Councilman William Green proposes new program to clean up vacant lots

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Vacant lots have become eyesores in some Montgomery neighborhoods. William Green, councilman for district 5, is hoping to introduce a new measure to combat the issue.

The proposed “Mow To Own” program aims to clean up the blight and restore pride back into the community.

“It is a program that allows citizens to take care of property over a length of time. After that time is completed then they have the option to purchase the property at next to nothing," said William Green.

Green says the program would initially focus on vacant lots owned by the city and state.

“Each vacant property can cost the city $800 per property per year to maintain. When you throw in the cost for paying the abator as well as the administration fee, which is 150 per property per incident. That is a lot of money," Green said.

In order to qualify you would have to be a homeowner, live within 1,000 feet of the vacant lot and have not had any abatements on your own property.

“Once these properties are then given over to the citizens, then we then bring it back on the tax roll as well as eliminate the burden of taking care of the properties for the city," said Green.

Montgomery resident Leroy Gray has lived on Woodlands Drive since 1981. He admits a lot has changed in this neighborhood since moving there.

“You have all of these abandoned houses, grass growing up, and no body attending the properties,” Gray said

In addition to fears the property value of his family’s home is dropping, the blight has created other concerns for Gray.

“You can see some big rats and everything roaming the street. I know snakes are right behind them. Makes me not even want to sit on my own porch,” Gray said.

Gray says given the condition of his neighborhood right now he is looking forward to the possibility of the “mow to own” program becoming a reality.

“I wouldn’t mind cutting it if it will make the neighborhood look good, but also I get to own it. That would be great. We could turn it to a park or whatever," Gray said.

Green has presented his proposal to the council. He says the city’s legal team is looking at it. He hopes to see this program implemented as a new ordinance or added to the neighborhood revitalization ordinance in the next couple of months.

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