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NEWARK — Governor Phil Murphy signed a new law in Newark’s west ward today, which will allow municipalities to use a land bank to collect vacant, abandoned, and neglected properties and reposition them for sale.

“Whether it is in Newark, Paterson, Trenton, or Camden, the creation of a land bank will be a powerful tool for taking empty and overlooked properties and turning them into places where residents can live and work,” said Murphy.

Newark’s west ward has particularly struggled with rows of abandoned homes and businesses, some which have sat vacant for decades.

“With this new law, we are finally turning the page!” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “This important tool will empower the people of Newark to acquire these properties, restore them, and transform them into community assets.”

Newark wants to give priority to residents who have been living in the affected areas to buy the properties at a discount.

Land bank entities will be permitted to acquire properties on its own and act as a municipality’s agent to purchase liens at a tax sale, carry out lien foreclosures, and take individual abandoned properties.

The available properties will be posted online. Officials hope the concept will expedite revitalization efforts. A community advisory board will be appointed to issue an annual report on the land bank entity’s online database.

The New Jersey Land Bank Law will take effect immediately.