DILAPIDATED BUILDINGS litter the Belmont County landscape. It is a problem that will never be totally eradicated but one that can be definitely lessened.
That is why Belmont County commissioners held court with representatives of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy Thriving Communities Institute this week. County officials are considering forming a land bank to pursue another tool in dealing with dilapidated properties.
Land banks provide a dual purpose. They help in the acquisition of funding to raze dilapidated homes while also serving as a tool for economic development.
Land banks are beginning to take root in Ohio, as some 21 are currently incorporated. That number will obviously grow rapidly, as they afford potential for beautification and economic growth.
Land banks are better equipped to handle property dealings than governmental agencies, expediting the process. Land banks can strategically acquire blighted properties and return them to productive use through:
Resale to private owners;
Use in traditional economic development.
They also provide the framework that may be beneficial in the future development of portions of riverfront communities such as Bellaire, Shadyside Bridgeport and Martins Ferry.
Belmont County commissioners are still doing their homework on land banks.
We believe it will be prudent if they proceed with establishing a land bank as it will improve the quality of life in Belmont County while also giving the county the direct ability to help its local governments.