Capitol Heights Vacant Lot Strategy

Project Description

Approximately one-third of the Town of Capitol Heights was platted before the establishment of the County’s Zoning Ordinance, and many of these lots do not meet the minimum lot size required for improvements. A historical prevalence of vacant properties, combined with dwelling demolitions over the years, have resulted in over 700 empty lots (17 percent of total lots) within the town’s corporate boundaries. The abundance of vacant lots means lower tax revenue and greater costs for the municipality. In addition, they give an appearance of blight that can lower the value of adjacent and nearby properties. They can make people feel less safe and create opportunities for criminal activity.

The privately owned vacant lots require continual monitoring by the town’s Property Standards Authority to ensure the lots are maintained and not overgrown. When an owner fails to maintain a property, town public works staff are deployed for grass cutting and cleanup, and the town cites the owner for failure to maintain the lot. The town then bills the owner for the cost of the cleanup. If the owner does not pay the invoice, the cost is added as a lien against the property for collection in tax sale. The enforcement and administrative process for monitoring privately owned lots costs the town significant material resources (mowing equipment use and gasoline) and staff time that could be put to better uses. 

The Vacant Lot Strategy will be critical to determining the town’s next steps in managing its vacant lots and reducing the time and money spent on their maintenance. The project is composed of the following elements: 

  • Background research and case studies
  • Vacant Lot Inventory Consolidation and Reconciliation
  • Analysis of vacant lots and development of lot typologies
  • Development of strategies and recommendations
  • Preparation and presentation of the final report

The consultants are building the vacant lot inventory and will be meeting with town staff in September to update them.

Project Boundary
Planning Board Approval: May 26, 2022
Kickoff Meeting: January 13, 2023
Field Tour: February 9, 2023
Vacant Lot Inventory Reconciliation: February 2023
Vacant Lot Analysis: April 2023
Strategies and Recommendations Memo: May 2023
Draft Strategies: July 2023
Project Update meeting with town staff: September 21, 2023September 21, 2023
Project Completion and Final Report:October 2023