Land bank incorporated

On Tuesday the Scioto County Commissioners passed a resolution designating the Scioto County Land Reutilization Corporation the authoritative body to handle the counties blighted housing stock, with the goal of eventually putting it back on the tax rolls.

Local leaders have gathered a few times to discuss the importance of a county land bank and the potential impact it could have on the community.

According to released information from the commissioners, Scioto County have the 29th county land bank in the state and the first in South Central/South Eastern Ohio.

The Scioto Foundation has offered to pay the start up costs of the land bank, as a grant to the Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) and SOPA has volunteered to administer the land bank once established.

The foundation are also paid the Western Reserve Land Conservancy to serve as consultants to SOPA and the land bank.

Jason Kester, Executive Director of SOPA defined a land bank as, “a community organization that deals with blighted houses. One of the things we identified with the America’s Best Communities Grant as a weakness of our community was the lack of recreational opportunities and lack of entry level housing.”

Kester said you can find communities of higher value housing and you can find communities of blighted housing.

“We have an issue in housing. There are over 3,000 blighted houses in Scioto County. How to address that issue has been identified (as a need of the community),” Kester said.

The land bank once established will be able to acquire and consolidate vacant parcels of land through purchases, donates or intergovernmental transfer from foreclosure. The land bank will be able to clear title to land and prepare parcels for transfer to a third party for redevelopment or reuse.

According to the commissioners, Scioto County has many vacant structures. Many in deplorable condition. This initiative will allow us to stabilize our housing base by eliminating blight and removing uninhabitable or functionally obsolete housing.

The first initial members of the Scioto County Land Reutilization Corporation will be Scioto County Commissioners Bryan Davis and Doug Coleman, along with Scioto County Treasurer Bill Ogg. At an initial meeting the board will appoint additional members and start the process of developing how the corporation will work. No, indication has been given on when the board will meet to get the process started.

The commissioners believe, by working with SOPA, the city of Portsmouth, village of New Boston and other villages and townships throughout the county, the Scioto County Land Reutilization Corporation will be an indispensable tool for land rehabilitation and economic development now and in the future.

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT