City Land Bank May Erase Unoccupied Properties
On January 16, St. Joseph News-Press published an article discussing the plan of Missouri State Representative Delus Johnson (R) for the creation of a land bank for the city of St. Joseph.
City land bank may erase unoccupied property
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Local officials could have a new weapon, courtesy of state government, in a drive to thin out St. Joseph’s empty residences and buildings.
State Rep. Delus Johnson, R-St. Joseph, plans to file a bill during the legislative session that would create a land bank for the city — acquiring, managing and transferring properties. A land bank in Kansas City was recently started and implemented a system that returns vacant properties to productive use, places them back on tax rolls and contributes to community improvement. Over the past several years, as the housing market declined and the number of foreclosures increased, cities and counties throughout the nation began establishing land banks to fight the problem, the project’s website said.
The endeavor received a boost from the Center for Community Progress — a national organization dedicated to helping cities, towns, states and regions reintegrate vacant, abandoned and blighted properties into the economic and civic life of their communities.
“A land bank can give new life to dilapidated properties,” Mr. Johnson said. The idea gives adjacent landowners the ability to purchase abandoned property, he added.
“New life for abandoned properties can also lead to a safer neighborhood,” he said.
Mr. Johnson said he is pursuing further research into land banks and how they operate. It took Kansas City three years to create its version once a state law cleared a path, he said.
“I would like to find out past opposition in the Senate before introducing (the bill),” he said.
City Manager Bruce Woody said he is looking forward to the chance of working with Mr. Johnson. Reducing the amount of vacant structures is the ultimate goal.
“Our intent in it is to successfully aggregate properties” and quickly address those that have potential for deterioration, Mr. Woody said.
“The city staff has talked on it a couple of occasions,” he added. “So far, it’s worked,” Mr. Woody said of Kansas City’s experience.
Clint Thompson, the city’s director of planning and community development, said St. Joseph already has a program to buy and renovate bank-foreclosed properties.
St. Louis also has a land bank at its disposal, Mr. Woody said.
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