Land bank might be feasible again


XENIA — According to the Greene County Board of Commissioners (BOCC), some cities within Greene County would like to see a land bank established in the county.

The BOCC recently discussed the feasibility of establishing a land bank in Greene County during a special work session on June 27.

By definition, land banks are public authorities or non-profit organizations created to acquire, hold, manage, and sometimes redevelop property in order to return those properties to productive use to meet community goals, such as increasing affordable housing or stabilizing property values.

County Administrator Brandon Huddleson is currently reviewing the 2016 files when the idea of a Greene County land band was originally proposed. Eric Henry, development director, is also in the process of reviewing past land bank proposals.

“Land banks are generally regarded as effective redevelopment tools designed to take care of abandoned/vacant properties,” said Henry. “That being said, land banks may not be a good fit for every county.”

The commissioners have agreed that the benefits of land banks need to be understood and the BOCC would like to see more information before moving forward.

According to county records, in 2018, 49 out of 88 Ohio counties had established a land bank. As of 2023, that number has grown to 66. Records also show there are currently 1,400 delinquent properties in Greene County. Land bank boards are comprised of the treasurer, two county commissioners, a township association member, and a member of the largest municipality.

The land banks are traditionally staffed by county departments of development. Greene County’s department of development would require an additional staff member if a land bank was created.

Building regulations often help the county land bank through the completion of inspections on delinquent properties. The county may also contract with an engineer for these services.

Land banks are funded by three revenue streams:

1. DTAC/Delinquent Taxes

2. Grants from the state

3. Forfeited property and redeveloped property sales

Land banks may claim up to 10 percent of DTAC revenue, but most land banks collect only 5 percent. The treasurer must approve funding via a letter drafted and sent by them to the BOCC. This revenue will initially negatively affect the income streams of the treasurer, prosecutor, and schools: however, each of these organizations stands to gain revenue in the long run through increased property values.

Land banks are not financial institutions. They are public or community-owned entities created for a single purpose: to acquire, manage, maintain, and re-purpose vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties – abandoned houses, forgotten buildings, and empty lots.

The Ohio Land Bank Association (OLBA) recently hosted the 2023 Ohio Land Bank Conference in Dayton on April 26-28. Now in its 12th year, the conference brought together hundreds of elected officials, land bank professionals, and lending community development practitioners.

Reach Karen Rase at 937-502-4534.

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