TCC discusses possible Land Bank at recent work session
The Toccoa City Commission met on Monday in a work-session to discuss creating a Land Bank.
According to LocalHousingSolutions.org., “Land Banks are public authorities or nonprofit organizations created to acquire, hold, manage, and sometimes redevelop property in order to return these properties to productive use to meet community goals, such as increasing affordable housing or stabilizing property values.”
City Attorney John Dickerson explained that the Land Bank would be able to acquire properties inside Stephens County and then have the option to sell those properties without having to go through a tax sale.
“As you all probably know, the Legislator authorized the creation of a land bank. Most typically, these are organizations that exist under an intergovernmental agreement with the county. The utilization that has taken place throughout the state are tax sale properties, that they buy from the taxing authority. They are then reoffered for private sale through the Land Bank, not through the city—because if we offer it through the city, you’ve got to go through a public sale. Sometimes, these land banks are useful in creating an overall development plan,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson says in Georgia, Rome and LaGrange have both started successful Land Banks.
City Commissioner Terry Carter says the benefit of having a Land Bank will allow the city to create a board with members focused on redeveloping areas in the city to allow for affordable housing and redevelop blighted areas of the City.
“I see that a benefit with the city, quiet often we have smaller parcels, maybe it’s a delipidated home that we have to tear down, put a lien on, and it just sits there with the city owning it, rather than having a mechanism like this that could actively try to partner with the Habitat or try to move it with a Realtor who could actively try to put that back on the tax digest and create affordable housing in some way,” Carter said.
He adds that properties can be donated or leased through the Land Bank.
“There are certain benefits to having the Land Bank. Properties can be donated through the Land Bank. The Land Bank can even lease the properties, they are actively managing it and working with developers; whereas right now, it would just be a staff function or just sort of happen,” Carter said.
Austin asked about the intergovernmental agreement.
“The intergovernmental agreement with the county, they would be forced to do the same thing–I mean, it’s not that they agree to it and not do anything as far as donating to the land bank,” Austin asked?
“They could donate to the Land Bank,” Dickerson said. “But they wouldn’t be forced to.”
“Also, the Land Bank wouldn’t have to take any county property that they don’t want to take. They don’t force it on you,” Carter said.
“So, you have to have an intergovernmental agreement, but it doesn’t affect them at all,” Austin asked?
“State Law requires a county set it up along with one city. That’s the only reason the county is involved,” Carter said.
Ultimately, the city commission decided to begin discussions with the Stephens County Government to see if this will be something they would also be interested in.
WNEG News will continue to follow this story and bring you updates as they become available.