Great Opportunity

BELMONT COUNTY commissioners made a sound investment when they pursued the establishment of a land bank.

That investment is primed to start paying immediate and impactful dividends.

Belmont County commissioners created the land bank to strategically acquire blighted, non-productive use properties and return them to productive use. The intent is to help all county residents and local governments reduce blight, increase property values, support community goals and simply improve the quality of life in Belmont County.

In a nutshell, the land bank will acquire properties from tax foreclosures, abandoned private properties and possible donations.

The board of directors will then assess each property to determine if it can be rehabilitated. If not, it will be demolished and the property sold to a neighbor and/or developer.

Belmont County’s land bank received a $500,000 deposit in the form of a funding award from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. The money will help the Belmont County Land Reutilization Corporation get off to a rousing start.

The initial properties targeted are along the riverfront in the communities of Martins Ferry, Bridgeport and Bellaire. County Auditor Andrew Sutak has aided the effort by providing a list of 100 potential properties.

The next step is to acquire those venues and contract with demolition companies. Commissioners believe the first home could be taken down in 45-90 days.

State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) lent a helping hand in securing the $500,000 award.

The land bank yields a golden opportunity to revitalize and reshape Belmont County. We commend Belmont County commissioners and all those who aided the cause in making such a worthwhile program become a reality.