Land Bank Measure Moves Back to Kingston Common Council for Consideration
On June 21, the Daily Freeman published an article discussing a Kingston, NY land bank creation proposal that was previously referred back to the Laws and Rules Committee for further consideration.
Land bank measure moves back to Kingston Common Council for consideration
KINGSTON >> A committee of the Common Council has once again moved a proposal forward for Kingston to create a land bank that would oversee the resale or repurpose of abandoned or tax-delinquent properties in the city.
The proposal had originally passed out of the Laws and Rules Committee last month, but when it came to the floor of the Common Council on June 2, aldermen referred it back to the committee for further consideration.
The committee on Tuesday met again with Brenna Robinson, director of the city’s Office of Community Development, to discuss the proposal. Following that discussion, a majority of the committee once again moved the proposal forward to be considered by the full Common Council.
Alderman Brad Will, D-Ward 3, voted against doing so.
“I see it as just another tool for you to use to address the problem properties in the city and see them used the way you’d like to see them used,” Robinson said of the land bank. “Mainly for increasing home ownership, but also for creating open spaces and recreational areas.”
Robinson has said the land bank would mainly be used to alleviate the burden the city has of carrying abandoned, dilapidated or condemned properties it had seized for non-payment of taxes. It would also provide an opportunity for the city to acquire properties approaching tax foreclosure or to create more green space, amongst other options, she has said previously.
“Mostly, I see the land bank addressing the real problem properties,” Robinson said Tuesday. She said it would be up to the city to determine which of its properties would be turned over to the land bank and which would continue to be marketed by a realtor. Once properties come to the land bank, though, the city has no further control over them, Robinson said.
Robinson added that the land bank would have the ability to invest money in the properties it takes to make them more attractive to potential buyers. She also said that while some aldermen were concerned about the city losing revenue from sales of these properties, the land bank would have the ability to make them more developable and valuable. The increased value and investment creates more taxable property, which in turn increases tax revenues for the city, Robinson said.
In response to other concerns aldermen raised, Robinson said the land bank would be responsible for any loans it takes out and that it would be very conservative in doing so. She also said that while the council would have no say over land bank properties, it would be the entity that appoints the five voting directors of the land bank and the residents and business-owners who form the advisory group.
Will said he felt there were a lot of people involved in the land bank between the board of directors and advisory group. He said he felt that was a big “extra layer” of bureaucracy. Will also said the city does not have a large inventory of property it owns and the land bank could be redundant.
The council needs to think hard about whether the land bank makes sense for Kingston, Will said.
Minority Leader Deborah Brown, R-Ward 9, said the land bank could help people own homes, rather than just renting. She said when people own homes they tend to take more pride in their neighborhoods and take better care of their property.
“That, to me, is the crux to a lot of this,” Brown said.
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