Land bank consideration
In the Xenia Gazette’s June 9 article, “Officials consider land bank,” critical information was missing that voters need to know in order to make informed decisions.
First, a land bank is a hidden form of eminent domain, where government takes private property under the argument it’ll be used for the public good. When the property transfers to the land bank, the deed is cleared of all taxes, liens, and state EPA requirements. It returns to the tax base if it is privately sold for $1 or more to a buyer who in the board’s opinion develops the property to benefit the community. This is begging for corruption as we all know there have been many famous cases where this process only benefitted cronyism.
Second, private-public corporations are another layer of bureaucracy. Once formed, corporations function as individuals. We have at least four private-public corporations, three of which are Community Improvement Corporations or CICS operated by the County, Xenia, and Fairborn under applicable Ohio Revised Codes. Boards of Directors are appointed, not elected, and can alter the by-laws at will within the confines of the law and non-profit regulations.
Third, although the land bank is the responsibility of all political subdivisions, only Fairborn and Xenia have been pressing for a land bank. Therefore, all county taxpayers will be subsidizing a process that basically benefits only two communities.
Fourth, there are ways to reclaim abandoned tax-delinquent properties already in use. For example, taxes can be forgiven by taxing authorities and Xenia has a “mow-to-own” program. However, these require more effort from city personnel so an alternative is being sought that is unnecessary, costlier, and open to corruption.
A land bank is a lazy “quick fix” approach and will not solve Fairborn’s and Xenia’s tax-foreclosure problems. What really is needed is correcting existing taxing and property codes that restrict property owners from improving their properties or finding other solutions.
It only takes two commissioners to approve a land bank corporation. Contact the county commissioners and tell them “NO” to land banks.
— Marlene Johnson, Yellow Springs