Millcreek tries tactic that could force residents to sell their homes

    Millcreek has been working towards getting an entire neighborhood near 3300 South and Highland Drive declared a blight. (Photo: KUTV)

    MILLCREEK, UT (KUTV) -- Tina Grant's home has been declared a blight by the city of Millcreek for what, to her, seems like a pretty ticky-tack reason: the sidewalk and road out front are in disrepair.

    Millcreek has been working toward getting an entire neighborhood near 3300 South and Highland Drive declared a blight. The move requires that at least two-thirds of the area is ugly, neglected or rundown.

    City planners have a vision for the area. They want to develop it with shops, restaurants, high density housing and maybe a park. It is a whole lot easier to force someone to sell their home if the neighborhood has been declared a blight.

    "As a homeowner, I should be free to sell or to keep my property as I want to," Grant said.

    Don and Carrie Knapton have lived in the neighborhood for 64 years. They say they fear that blight declaration will make their home worth significantly less.

    Carrie says she told a city official she felt like the city was bullying her into selling and she says the official responded, “Oh, we'll get it. We'll just turn it over to eminent domain."

    Get Gephardt spoke to about a dozen homeowners and business owners who all echoed the same concerns: if there are forced to sell they could lose their only bargaining chip to demand a fair price.

    Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini says residents shouldn’t fear having their property values hurt by a blight declaration.

    "The fact that you're in a redevelopment area might actually increase the value of your property because somebody wants to buy it to redevelop it," he said.

    He also says declaring the neighborhood a blight is good for the entire community because one or two hold outs won’t be able to stand in the way of a development that everyone else wants.

    "If you're the 25 percent property owner that doesn't want to sell when 75 percent want the city to take your property, yeah, that is a situation that could occur,” he said.

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