Derelict properties could go to a land bank
County commissioners are considering creating a county land bank that could help transform derelict properties into parks, playgrounds, and the like.
Commissioners talked Monday with county counselor Brad Jantz about ways they could dispose of structures in bad repair.
“You can purchase; you can take them by gift; you can obtain them by the tax sale,” Jantz said. “There are plenty of ways you can hold these properties.”
When a county takes property, it assumes liability issues that can be expensive. But if it transfers the land to someone else, such as a land bank, the new owner indemnifies the county, Jantz said.
Because land banks operate with taxpayer money, they remain subject to open meetings and open records laws. Commissioners ccould dissolve a land bank and retake possession of the land at any time.
A land bank would be a last resort.
“Most of the land banks I’ve been aware of have been very beneficial,” Jantz said.
Commission chairman Dianne Novak asked whether the county could cooperate with the city of Marion, which has its own land bank.
“I find it better to have the county have one,” Jantz said.
Commissioner Kent Becker asked whether the county should remove itself if a derelict property is within a town that already has a land bank. Jantz said yes.
Commissioners decided to study the issue further before making a decision.