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    Bristol, Va. City Council advances tax hike on former Virginia Intermont campus, deeming it ‘blighted property’

    By Faith Little,

    2024-06-12

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2yeBqU_0toOb5Cl00

    BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) — The Bristol, Virginia City Council passed an ordinance on first reading Tuesday evening to consider a parcel of land on the former Virginia Intermont College’s property as “blighted” and raise property taxes for its owner by 5%.

    The property, located at 1013 Moore Street, was purchased in 2016 by U.S. Magis International, a Chinese-owned company based out of New York. Leaders of the City of Bristol, Virginia said they’ve been trying for years to work with the owners of the property on restoration efforts.

    “It’s as everybody knows, it’s in the center of the city, sitting just abandoned,” Vice Mayor Jake Holmes told News Channel 11 after the meeting. “It’s starting to fall apart. It’s not in great shape. And it’s time to time to do something.”

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    City Manager Randall Eads said during Tuesday evening’s meeting that the city assessor determined after an exterior inspection that the property and its buildings were considered “blighted”. The ordinance’s first reading to officially consider the property as blighted and to raise U.S. Magis International’s property taxes by 5% passed unanimously.

    Council member Michael Pollard said in the meeting that the move wasn’t to hurt anyone locally, specifically those unhoused in Bristol.

    “I’d like to reiterate we do not want to make use of abilities that we may have, to make things harder on residents who are just going through a rough time,” Pollard said during member discussion. “But unfortunately, the owner of this particular property has repeatedly and regularly not wanted to cooperate with us, even for basic safety issues unless absolutely forced to…right now with that particular property, we need all the tools we can make use of.”

    A blighted property is defined by Virginia Code § 36-3 as “any individual commercial, industrial, or residential structure or improvement that endangers the public’s health, safety, or welfare because the structure or improvement upon the property is dilapidated, deteriorated, or violates minimum health and safety standards, or any structure or improvement previously designated as blighted.”

    “We don’t want to use this ability frequently, but I think this is a case where its completely honestly within our legal right to do so, but I think its completely within reason, so I’m glad this is coming for a vote,” Councilman Neal Osborne said during the meeting.

    The ordinance must be approved on a second reading. It would then be formally adopted and go into effect 30 days after its adoption.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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