CROWN POINT, Ind. — The Lake County Board of Commissioners has permitted Gary to go to court to seize vacant lots and abandoned buildings in the names of serial tax-delinquent owners.

Gary officials have previously said they want to collect up to 3,500 parcels in the next year and turn them over to MaiaCo LLC, a private redevelopment partner with ties to former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Commissioners say those who buy and hold multiple tax sale properties without paying their future tax bills, and then seek bankruptcy protection, are holding back the future of Gary. Around 16,000 parcels owing $150 million in back taxes are for sale, most of which are in Gary.

Jim Nowacki, a Gary resident who owns about 300 properties, tells The (Northwest Indiana) Times ( ) that the effort targets him and other private developers who buy tax-delinquent properties at government auctions with the hope of attracting new business and homeowners.

“There is an absolute collapse of market transactions in the city,” Nowacki said. “People have thrown up their hands and walked away. If you want investment in the city, you have to make it so market-based investors come to the city, not this special legislation.”

County Attorney John Dull said the county is not targeting Nowacki’s properties this year, however it is still pursuing delinquent properties owned by Gary school board member Marion R. Williams.

Commissioners filed suit in 2014 after a Times investigation showed parcels under Williams’ name had uncollected taxes exceeding $500,000.

Information from: The Times,