Vacant land fair to be held in Pontiac

A vacant land fair titled "Lots of Possibilities" is being held in the city of Pontiac Saturday, May 7. More than 900 vacant parcels are for sale and will be on display at Wisner Memorial Stadium beginning at 11:00 a.m. The city lots measure approximately 50 by 100 feet and are priced at $250 or less per parcel.

The vacant land fair will have an urban farming flair, and city officials are expecting a big turnout. The city has partnered with UrbanFarming.org, a national advocacy group dedicated to the proliferation of urban farms. That organization, along with goat farmers, honey bee keepers, and a number of sponsors, will be on hand to help prospective buyers give vision to the vacant lots.

Dayne Thomas, Chair of the Pontiac Planning Commission, says the purpose of the vacant land fair is to eradicate blight. The planning commission wants to see the land utilized. He says any proposal will be considered and, if deemed viable, will most likely be approved. An application and questionnaire process will help weed out speculators and others seeking to purchase lots and not do anything with them.

"We have the questionnaires because we don't want people who will take the lots and sit on them with no plans to clean them up," says Thomas. "It's not perfect, but it's a sort of checks and balances to provide accountability to the system."

The first vacant land fair was held last summer, without the urban farming theme. That experience led Thomas to realize that the land fairs couldn't be one-and-done events. He says the city will hold the fairs each spring, summer, and fall until they're no longer deemed necessary.

Lots of Possibilities starts at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 7. Wisner Memorial Stadium is located at 441 Cesar Chavez Ave. in Pontiac.

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