City of Covington trying to turn vacant lots, property into homes

Idea is to attract residents, homeowners
Posted at 6:53 PM, May 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-01 18:53:20-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — Tim Morrison and Christina Turner are happy to hear that the city is trying to sell 160 vacant lots and properties it owns to people it hopes will build homes on them.

"This is exciting news,” says Morrison, who lives a block away from Pleasant Street.

The city has 18 vacant parcels of land and two single-family homes on that street alone.

“They just sit and stuff gets dumped there,” Morrison said. “They’re very poorly maintained. It’s an eyesore.”

The city commission approved a proposal last week that will allow it to sell the properties and get them back on the tax rolls, and already it has received calls from people like Turner.

“I eventually want to buy a house because I am tired of renting,” Turner said. “I want to own my own home and give that to my kids.”

Likewise, the city is tired of maintaining all of these unused properties.

“It creates maintenance issues,” said Ken Smith, Director of Neighborhood Services. “Our department of public works has to mow these vacant lots and buildings if they have yards.

“Snow removal … keeping it boarded and secure” are other issues, Smith said.

Smith said he’s encouraged by the interest so far.

“I’ve received 4-5 applications already,” he said. “There are people definitely interested. I’ve received multiple applications for the same property.”

On the city website, Smith makes it clear that interested buyers need to know what the program is and what it's not.

"It’s not 'free land.' It’s not 'homes for a dollar.' It’s not 'call and make an offer,' " Smith said.

“We want to realize the highest value for these properties that we can, and by ‘value’ I mean both purchase price and end use,” he said. “These are public assets owned by taxpayers, and we’re treating them as such. But we also want these properties to find beneficial uses again.”

Smith said the guidelines require people to complete an application, be in good standing with the city, and disclose what they plan to do with that property.

“If we can create new housing, that applicant would probably be more successful than someone who used it for a driveway,” Smith said.

“Hopefully it makes it a better place, and cleaner and more stable living for more people to live,” Turner said.