The Union Recorder

Local News

June 12, 2013

City joins land bank talk

MILLEDGEVILLE — City of Milledgeville officials heard Baldwin County Commissioner and land bank advocate Henry Craig’s presentation about creating a local government mechanism to return dilapidated, abandoned and tax delinquent properties to productive use during Tuesday’s City Council work session. 

Last week, the county commissioners unanimously voted that advancing the land bank concept was a good idea. The county moved forward with land bank discussion pending City Council approval. 

No official decision came out of Tuesday’s meeting though City Manager Barry Jarrett said the topic would be a perfect project for a joint county/city meeting yet to be scheduled in July.

Craig told city officials a land bank allows communities to demolish, salvage, create open green areas, gardens, restore interesting buildings or hold land until the right purpose is determined.

“It has the ability to replace the old manner, which is just to sell it all at the courthouse steps. It also allows an expedited process to clean up liens on property,” Craig said Tuesday.

The statute, Senate Bill 284, lets the land bank board acquire, develop, demolish, rehabilitate, lease, sell or otherwise dispose of real property.

Any proceeds from property sales go toward operations and to recover expenses.

The commissioner’s city presentation included photos of dilapidated homes on Swint Avenue and Vinson Highway. Improving rough areas like the Swint approach to Central State Hospital could increase property values community wide.

“It’s the area of our town that’s the most challenged and needs the most love from those that want to change our community,” Craig said.

Councilwoman Denese Shinholster, District 3, said people traverse those vacant lots on Swint Avenue each day, which isn’t the safest practice. Jeanette Walden, District 2, likes the land bank idea. Walden said city ordinances allow code enforcement officers to clean up blighted locations and suggested the county do the same moving forward.

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