Land bank board to meet

For the last several months Scioto County, city of Portsmouth, village of New Boston and Southern Ohio Port Authority officials have been meeting, with the goal of establishing a Scioto County Land Bank. All of the necessary paperwork has been approved and the initial board members plan to meet next week to push the development a little farther.

The initial members of the Scioto County Land Bank Board of Directors are Scioto County Commissioners Doug Coleman and Bryan Davis along with Scioto County Treasurer Bill Ogg. At the meeting next week it’s anticipated more board members will be appointed.

The Southern Ohio Port Authority in calibration with the Scioto Foundation has hired Western Reserve Land Conservancy as a consultant in getting a land bank established.

Jason Kester, Executive Director of Southern Ohio Port Authority 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 city of Portsmouth has an established Land Reutilization Program, that will get folded into the land bank once formed.

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 commission said.

Once the land bank board meeting and establishes bylaws to which the board will adhear to, the board and begin to apply for available money.

The meeting will be held Tuesday, June 28, 10:30 a.m. in the office of Scioto County Commissioner Mike Crabtree.

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