Manistee County Officials Seek to Learn About Land Banks

Land Bank Update
June 6, 2017

MANISTEE — Blighted properties, ones that have been foreclosed on for non-payment of taxes, that are abandoned and neglected, and are now county owned present a great opportunity to become a community asset.

In a groundbreaking effort to create a sustainable method to help build a strong, resilient response, while creating assurances that problem properties are reused in ways that support local goals, Manistee County is exploring the idea of establishing a Land Bank.

On June 12 at 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Manistee County Courthouse in the board of commissioners room, Manistee County Treasurer Russell Pomeroy will host three experts who will speak about what a Land Bank is and how it is benefiting their community. The public is invited to attend the presentation at no cost.

Invited to speak about how their Land Bank has made a positive impact on their community will be Mary Balkama, Kalamazoo County Treasurer and Chair of the Kalamazoo County Land Bank Authority, Kelly Clark, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Land Bank and Chair of the Michigan Association of Land Banks, and Michelle Thompson, Benzie County Treasurer and Chair of the Benzie County Land Bank Authority.

"We are looking at establishing a Land Bank to deal with structures that are tax delinquent and have foreclosed; properties that are now County owned. Once the structures become a part of the Land Bank we have a greater chance of getting them back onto the tax rolls. We are investigating whether Manistee County wants to establish a Land Bank and I'd like to invite the public to hear a presentation from two other County's that have Land Banks, " Pomeroy said.

Land Banks specialize in the acquisition of problem properties with the direct intention to return them to the private market. Land Banks acquire title to problem properties, eliminate the liabilities, and sell the properties to new, responsible owners in a transparent and efficient manner.

"We have seen first hand how blight and vacant buildings that have been significantly neglected and cannot be revitalized become major nuisances that undermine the community's efforts to improve a business district and that detract from neighborhoods; both of which drain local tax dollars and prohibit economic development opportunities," said Cindi McPherson Village of Bear Lake Clerk and owner of Bear Lake Bed and Breakfast, "A Land Bank will be another great tool to address blight."

"Many communities utilize a blight ordinance as one method of dealing with blight," said Tamara Buswinka, AES Community Development Director, "but the purpose of the Land Bank is to target abandoned properties that have been severely neglected and are County owned. The great thing about a Land Bank is that these abandoned properties can be returned to the market thus helping improve the economy by providing space for a new business and stabilizing neighborhoods by attracting new residents."

Authorized to establish a Land Bank by the Land Bank Fast Track Act, Act 258 of 2003, Manistee County will continue to explore the pros and cons of establishing a Land Bank and invite members of the community to the June 12th event to learn more about how Land Banks have worked in other communities in Michigan.

Source: Ludington Daily News

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