The Union Recorder

Local News

May 24, 2013

Land bank could address local blight



The altered “Georgia Land Bank Act”, passed by the 2012 General Assembly as Senate Bill 284, still offers local governments a mechanism to return dilapidated, abandoned and tax delinquent properties to productive use.

During Tuesday's Baldwin County Commissioners work session, Commissioner Henry Craig, District 4, presented background information describing how the county could deal with countless blighted properties as part of a master plan.

“I think things like how we use our properties, how they look and litter are all connected to our future as a community,” Craig said. “One of the things that we can do to take charge is consider a land bank.”

• Land Bank requires joint effort

Currently, the county holds over 50 “knocked off” regular foreclosure or judicial tax sale properties, many of which are steadily deteriorating. These kinds of properties impose significant costs including lowering property values, increasing public safety protection costs and decreasing tax revenues, according to the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) SB 284 summary.

Craig said the land bank concept avoids devastating effects of carelessly selling property with no idea of the future owner's plans. 

“It's an alternative to how we've done business forever. By creating a land bank system, the communities can participate in what happens to their neighborhood,” the commissioner said Tuesday.

City and county government interests go hand in hand for land bank authority creation.

The statute says counties may not create a land bank without at least one participating city within the geographical boundaries of the county and vice versa. Other adjacent governments could join as well.

A local law, ordinance or resolution must pass to create the bank authority.

The resolution would specify various items such as the initial land bank board members. The intro size features an odd number between 5 and 11.

City or county employees may join the board.

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