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  • Last modified 26 days ago (Oct. 26, 2017)

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Marion creates land bank

Staff writer

Marion city council established a land bank Monday to help develop property.

“It’s a separate governmental entity, which can be used to facilitate the acquisition and the disposition of property,” city administrator Roger Holter said. “The key characteristics of it, it creates ad valorem tax benefits and it streamlines the purchase and sales process of getting rehabilitated properties back on the tax roll.”

The stated goal in the ordinance of the land bank will be to return tax-delinquent property to productive use that benefits the community. Preference will be given to proposals that promote homeownership, improve neighborhoods, and otherwise promote the city’s economic and social interests.

Holter said there are at least 84 properties currently delinquent in Marion. The land bank could provide some relief to those properties, he said.

The city acquired a property in the last two weeks, a house on Sherman St. with half a year of unpaid taxes that had been targeted for demolition.

The city will not have to pay taxes on property in the land bank.

The land bank can also handle abandoned properties and vacant lots. Land bank properties do not have to be vacant or delinquent.

The land bank may sell property without competitive bidding. Property can be donated or purchased by the land bank, but it does not have to accept donations, Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said.

Council member Chris Costello asked if land banks have stimulated development in other towns.

“The best example of it working is Greensburg,” Holter said, citing a large bank of properties rehabilitated.

Holter listed Lyons as another similarly-sized town with an effective land bank. Lyons brought 18 properties back onto tax rolls in a five-year period, he said.

“I can see it becoming beneficial if everything works out as presented,” council member Melissa Mermis said.

“If all else fails, you dissolve it by ordinance,” Holter said.

In other action:

  • City crews will have a new 2018 International trash truck after approval of a lease-purchase agreement with Central National Bank. Heitschmidt, a bank employee, abstained from the vote.
  • The city will temporarily lease property to The Building Center and Marion Marble and Granite Works so The Building Center can avoid construction delays. The property was part of an old railroad bed. The county and state both have correct paperwork, but the National Transportation Safety Board is searching for it. Council member John Wheeler abstained.

Last modified Oct. 26, 2017

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