Brockport task force to tackle housing 

The Village of Brockport has a long, complicated history with its rental properties. The issue heats up during the periodic clashes between village officials and landlords over property maintenance and occupancy issues.

Brockport officials have taken steps to rein in some of the village's most problematic properties and landlords over the last few years, however. They've begun requiring landlords to register their apartments, for example. And in recent months, they've beefed up the village's code enforcement office.

But officials say they want to take a more holistic approach to village housing issues, and they're putting together a Housing Task Force to lead the way. The village board is searching for six residents to serve on the nine-member body. The other members will be a member of the village board, a member of the Planning Board, and the code enforcement officer.

Rental properties make up a growing segment of the village's housing, says Mayor Margay Blackman. And much of the task force's charge deals with issues specific to Brockport's 1,600-plus rental units; many occupied by SUNY College at Brockport students.

Task force members will review rental property fees and fines, the village's approach to code enforcement, and potential changes to rental inspection programs, Blackman says. They'll also examine approaches for handling properties with serious recurring problems, she says.

But the task force isn't meant to be all stick; village officials say they want some carrot in there, too. So it'll also be responsible for reviewing village assessment practices, as well as researching potential incentive programs to encourage owners to invest in their properties.

And the task force will also look for ways to boost owner occupancy in the village. One of its responsibilities will be to research potential incentives for property owners who convert apartment houses into single-family residences.

Officials say they also want the task force to look for ways to foster the formation of neighborhood associations and possibly the creation of a Main Street LLC. The latter is an approach that's been used successfully in the Village of Perry in Wyoming County.

Under the Main Street LLC concept, community members band together to form a for-profit company that buys and rehabilitates properties. Ideally, the shareholders make some direct return on their investment. But the effort is really about ensuring that people with long-term interests can work together for the community's vitality.

The approach could help the village with another problem that the task force will examine: vacant and abandoned properties. Blackman says there are about 36 in the village.

"It's noticeable," she says. "There are vacant properties on a number of streets and some of them have been there for some time."

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