Commissioners Consider Land Bank

Posted on September 16, 2011

Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, representing the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, presented the steps for and benefits of establishing a land bank in Erie County.   

The purpose of a land bank is to return vacant or abandoned properties to productive use.  It acquires foreclosed properties through banks, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or by other federal and state agencies.  A land bank may also accept donated properties. 

Depending on the state of the properties acquired, existing buildings may be mothballed and maintained for future disposition.  Or they may be torn down and the vacant property disposed of.  For example, a vacant property may be sold to a neighbor for use as a side lot. 

The land bank is created by the county commissioners.  Its primary source of operating revenues comes from penalties and interest on unpaid taxes and assessments.  Other revenue sources include the sale of banked properties, as well as grants from foundations and other government programs.

Rokakis offered his agency’s services, at no cost, in helping the county establish its land bank.  He also observed county land banks work in partnership with  similar programs offered by cities.