Banking on Land

LAND BANKS appear to be a good investment for Belmont County.

County land banks are private and nonprofit corporations. They are not classified as a county agency but are committed to the public purpose of promoting economic and housing development while also facilitating the reclamation, rehabilitation and reutilization of vacant, abandoned, tax-foreclosed or other real property.

Belmont County has the ideal landscape to implement a successful land bank.

The Belmont County Land Bank Committee held its initial meeting Monday and immediately got the ball rolling. The panel applied for $500,000 in funding from the Neighborhood Initiative Program in order to meet the July 31 deadline.

The committee is composed of Commissioners Ginny Favede and Matt Coffland, County Treasurer Kathy Kelich and Martins Ferry Mayor Paul Riethmiller. The Richland Township trustees will appoint the fifth member.

The land bank has the ability to efficiently hold and manage real property pending its use while providing help to entities in their quest to clearing ownership titles.

In Belmont County there is an outstanding need to demolish or rehab dilapidated structures. A lack of funding often times snarled such attempts.

Now with a county land bank in place, funding issues will be a less of a problem. That will likely spawn much needed movement in razing unsightly structures.

The land bank is under mandated deadlines for acquiring properties. That is a good thing as it will spur needed action.

Creation of a land bank was a prudent move by Belmont County officials.

It is one that we believe will yield economic and scenic dividends.