YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown City Council’s finance committee was presented Monday with a new program to beautify some of the city-owned vacant lots.

It centers around homeowners living adjacent to the lots and provides a way for them to eventually own them. Under the city’s new “Mow to Own Adjacent Lot Disposition Program,” if the city owns the land, the homeowner could work towards buying it.

“We want people to take care of the properties so we don’t have to constantly do it,” said Mike Durkin, who oversees Youngstown housing code enforcement and demolitions which includes mowing 6,000 vacant properties three times a year.

“That’s a lot of cutting that we have to maintain,” he said.

Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown presented the “Mow to Own” program to city council Monday, which includes the following stipulations:

  • Homeowners interested would pay a $190 application fee.
  • Only city-owned properties could be bought, the price of which would be determined by the land’s location and value.
  • Homeowners would have to prove, for one year, that they can maintain it

“That you’re cutting the grass. That you’re keeping the sidewalks clean in front of it. That if there is a hydrant in front, you have to keep the snow off the hydrant,” Brown said.

After buying the land, if a homeowner fails to maintain it, it could be returned to the city. And a homeowner on one street can’t buy up an entire block of vacant lots, only those adjacent to their house.

“Create their own residential development so to speak. That’s not what this is about. This is about beautification,” Brown said.

It was decided to leave the legislation creating the “Mow to Own” program in city council’s finance committee for now, but the plan is to pass it by the end of the year and have it ready to start the first of next year.