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Government

City Council Frustrated With Brownback's Veto Over Blight Bill

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Sean Sandefur
/
KMUW
The Leona apartment building that was demolished by the City of Wichita last year.

Wichita City Council members expressed frustration this morning over a decision by Gov. Sam Brownback to veto a bill aimed at cleaning up blighted buildings.

The discussion happened just after Lavonta Williams was selected to be the city’s next vice mayor.

During the meeting, City Council member Pete Meitzner mentioned Williams’ dedication to improving Wichita’s blighted neighborhoods. He said he disagreed with Brownback’s characterization of a bill that was meant to make it easier for municipalities to seize abandoned buildings.

“I’m disappointed that it’s been cast that we’re going to be very aggressive in taking people’s property,” Meitzner said. “All we’re trying to do is help resolve the deterioration, not of a piece of property, but the impact to the whole neighborhood.”

The bill would have allowed a city or non-profit to take possession of a blighted building if left vacant for at least a year. Current law only allows organizations to seek temporary possession after two years of delinquent taxes and 90 days of vacancy. 

Brownback said the bill could encroach on people’s property rights.

Williams said the City of Wichita needs to work with the Kansas legislature to draft a new bill.

“[Blight] is something that’s going on around the country, and we have something in place that’s going to work,” Williams said.

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Follow Sean Sandefur on Twitter @SeanSandefur

 
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