Land bank has first meeting

Published 10:27 am Thursday, July 21, 2016

The county’s land bank designed to clean up eyesores and abandoned properties is up and running.

The bank met for its organizational meeting on Wednesday, headed by Lawrence County Treasurer Stephen Burcham, who is by law the chair. Other statutory members are Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith, Lawrence County Commissioners Bill Pratt and Freddie Hayes Jr. and two Upper Township Trustees. The trustees were not present at this meeting. Keith was named vice chair.

The goal is to rehabilitate abandoned properties.

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“It will acquire properties and resell at fair market value,” Burcham said. “This is a separate legal entity. It is not considered a governmental entity as a county. But it is required to have open meetings and is subject to audits.”

Initial funding will come from five percent of the delinquent tax collections, which is estimated to be approximately $200,000.

“That will affect schools in the short term but will put more taxable properties on the books in the long run,” Lawrence County Auditor Jason Stephens said. “Ultimately the people who fund the land bank are those who don’t pay their taxes on time.”

Additional sources of funding could come from $60 million in grants released by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

The land bank can acquire property through donation such as from a bank It can also buy property, which can be residential or commercial including gas stations.

Those properties can be turned into rentals, green space or an industrial park.

“The potential is almost unlimited if we can just get if off the ground,” Burcham said.