City managers say proposed land bank would help revitalize communities

Local city managers say a proposed county land bank would help their communities transform abandoned homes and buildings into tax revenue generating pieces of real estate.

Commissioners are planning a public work session this week to discuss the feasibility of creating a land bank in the county.

Greene County Treasurer Dick Gould has touted the idea, during community forums in the county, of a independent land organziation headed by a director who would report to a five-member minimum board that includes two county commissioners; the county treasurer; a representative from the largest city in the county (Beavercreek) and a township representative.

“It will provide us another tool to revitalize our neighborhoods and bring up the overall tax base for the county,” Gould said.

Eight percent of the 68,241 housing units in the Greene County are vacant, according to information obtained from the county. Over a three-year period starting in 2008, the county reported 3,366 foreclosures. Xenia with 926 foreclosures; Fairborn with 872; and Beavercreek with 675 reported the highest number of foreclosures.

Eradicating vacant and abandoned homes in Fairborn plays a critical role in revitalizing the city, said Deborah McDonnell, the Fairborn City manger.

Fairborn has been able to demolish some of the problematic properties, however the city does not have the money to get rid of a large number of them on its own.

“We need a way to make a big impact,” she said.

The land bank would allow the jurisdictions in the county to take control of vacant properties, dismiss any liens attached to the building or land, and pool the properties to market them as a larger piece that could be used for redevelopment.

“I can’t attract new business here if the cake that I’m giving them is less than favorable,” McDonnell said. “I have to sow the seeds of prosperity.”

Xenia had 436 tax delinquent properties, 70 of which were vacant, as of May 2012, according to the city manager’s office.

Without the land bank, the city has to go through a lengthy process to take ownership of the property, said Brian Forschner, the Xenia assistant city planner.

“It’s a tool that expedites a process that puts neglected properties back in active hands,” he said

Greene County Board of Commissioners President Alan Anderson said without some idea of the income and expenses attached to the land bank, he doesn’t know how he feels about it.

“There’s a lot of things that could help people out, but does it justify the bureaucracy?” Anderson said. “Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t. I need to see the details. I need a business plan.”

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