The Bristol Press: Bristol, Conn., and surrounding areas (BristolPress.com)

BRISTOL – City councilors are considering a plan to offer tax abatements to encourage people to buy multi-family houses in town.The proposal under consideration by the Ordinance Committee would waive an entire year’s property taxes for people who purchase and live in a multi-family rental home for at least five years.The proposal, initiated by first-term GOP city Councilor Derek Czenczelewski, would also apply to those who build a new single-family house.Czenczelewski said implementing the plan would spur economic development and improve conditions for multi-family housing because it would shrink the number of absentee landlords. It should also produce better living conditions for many tenants and reduce crime, he said.

The main goal, he said, is to reduce the impact of out-of-state landlords who have bought up cheap rental housing in the city as investments.City Councilor David Mills, who serves on the ordinance panel, said the plan may be changed to offer special incentives to veterans who might want to purchase rental homes. He said it would provide them with housing and boost the community at the same time.“I like the idea of tying it into the veterans,” Mills said.Another committee member, city Councilor Ken Cockayne, said he would add a requirement that housing meet all current code requirements before anyone qualified for a tax break.Czenczelewski said he would also require those seeking to participate go through some sort of seminar to learn the basics of home ownership.Czenczelewski said people are “far more likely to maintain a property to the highest standards and screen your potential renters” if they are living there than if they merely possess it as an absentee owner distant from the day-to-day needs of the property.Spurring new home building, Czenczelewski said, would be a way to “kick start” the housing market and add to the city’s tax base.Officials said they may adopt an ordinance with a sunset clause so that it could be reviewed again in five years to see if it should remain on the books.The real estate panel is continuing to study the idea. Its members said they want to make sure the plan wouldn’t have a negative impact on the sale of existing homes.They also want to work out the details of how the city would implement the proposal and enforce the requirement that those who get the break actually live in the rental units for five years.The panel may finish its work on the plan within a few months. If the committee backs it, the City Council could vote on the proposed statute by spring and the ordinance could take effect by summer.Steve Collins can be reached at(860) 584-0501, ext. 7254, orat scollins@bristolpress.com.

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