NEWARK, NJ - Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to sign a bill that would allow municipalities to create land banks that will help assemble and sell blighted properties.
The governor will join Mayor Ras Baraka in the West Ward tomorrow afternoon to sign the bill. The legislation would be particularly helpful to municipalities like Newark, which has areas of abandoned properties that are owned by the city.
Baraka in May testified in Trenton and supported the legislation.
“This is something that can be done and should be done. It is incredibly necessary,” Baraka previously said in his testimony. “Not only does it bring more revenue to the city, it also brings more revenue to the state."
The legislation would allow municipalities to create land banks that are managed by nonprofits. The land bank would be responsible for creating a data system of city-owned property up for sale.
It is expected that the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation will be designated to handle the city's land bank. The quasi-governmental organization's only client is the City of Newark.
The designated nonprofit would also be able to acquire properties for the land bank through gift or purchase and act as the municipality's agent to purchase liens at tax sale. A land bank entity would also create a community advisory board.
A version of the bill was vetoed twice by former Gov. Chris Christie over a lack of state oversight in place for land banks. He said the system has been used as "vehicles of fraud and kickback schemes" in other states.