MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County Director of Development Rich Osgood spoke with the Board of Miami County Commissioners on Thursday about the possibility of moving forward with developing a county land bank.
The commissioners previously heard a presentation from the Western Reserve Land Conservancy on land banks during their meeting on Sept. 24. Robin Thomas of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy explained the county could form a land bank as a land reutilization program to address blight, foreclosures, or vacant properties. Thomas explained a land bank could be used to take control of vacant or abandoned properties and repurpose those properties through demolitions, rehabilitations, transferring properties to qualified land users, and more. Thomas explained that while the process would begin with the county commissioners, the land bank would operate as a private nonprofit organization. She said there are currently approximately 56 land banks in Ohio.
“We really want it to be a focus on economic development,” Osgood said on Thursday.
Osgood went over what the planning process would be like to create a land bank, including establishing agreements between the cities of Miami County and the county commissioners passing a number of resolutions in regard to the land bank. Those resolutions would approve establishing the land bank, establishing the corporation of the land bank as an agent of the county, and approving the land bank’s strategic plan and bylaws. The land bank would also include a board of directors made up of representatives from the county, the Board of Commissioners, the largest city in the county, and possibly the larger townships. If the county were to proceed, the land bank could be operational by March 2020.
The commissioners asked if they would be the ones taking on the risk with these properties, such as properties that do not get turned over quickly and that the county may be responsible for maintaining.
“One thing I like about it … is cleaning up blight,” Commissioner Ted Mercer said, adding later, “We don’t want to end up with a maintenance nightmare.”
Osgood agreed the county would not want to get into any long-term holdings.
“I think it’s got some real merit,” said Commissioner Jack Evans, who requested more information about the county’s responsibilities in regard to a land bank.
Assistant Prosecutor Paul Watkins from the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office also mentioned wanting information on how it would benefit the county to go this route through a land bank instead of the individual municipalities to go the route of an expedited foreclosure process to take over properties.
Mercer suggested having another roundtable discussion with the involved parties.
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