News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Don Drumm Studios

Lehmans

Northeast Ohio Medical University


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Ohio


Movement to bank land builds throughout northeast Ohio
Supporters say they fight blight, crime and decay
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE
and ANNA STAVER


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
In The Region:

Summit County’s council is considering tonight (Monday) creating a land bank to help reduce the number of abandoned properties. It’s part of a growing trend across the state that started two years ago with Cuyahoga County. WSKU’s M.L. Schultze reports that Stark, Erie and Trumbull counties also are all beginning work on their own banks.

SCHULTZE land bank development

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (2:54)


Land banks operate like a non-profit organization except they’re run by county governments. They buy vacant properties with the help of a pool of delinquent taxes, then sell or demolish the buildings. 

Former Cuyahoga County TreasurerJim Rokakis helped draft the 2009 Ohio law allowing for land banks and now runs the Western Reserve’s Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute.

 “These are tough times and land banks allow us to take control of this kind of wild-wild west that is being created by property flippers and … speculators.” 

Rokakis says land banks face two challenges. One is what he calls an embarrassment of riches. There are more abandoned properties in counties than they can afford to buy. The second issue is paying for demolition. 

”There are at least 75,000 structures by our count in this state that need to be demolished. They’ve been vandalized, they’ve been gutted; they are functionally obsolete. There is no hope that anybody’s going to move into them. We have to move to take them down because they are really damaging the value of properties around them.” 

Rokakis estimates that nearly one third of those abandoned properties are in Northeast Ohio. In Cuyahoga County, Fannie Mae, Wells Fargo and the Bank of America have all donated dozens of homes to the land bank. The three have also included checks to help cover the cost of demolishing the properties. 

Peter Elliot is the U.S. marshal for northern Ohio and he says vacant buildings pose more than a financial threat. 

ELLIOT (0:13): “It’s a law enforcement problem, and it’s a safety issue. And when you have vacant houses out there and items being stored such as drugs and guns, and fugitives hiding out in vacant houses, it’s a serious problem for the whole community.” 

Elliot says those concerns about crime are one realson to support land banks. And Rokakis and the Thriving Communities organization are using both the financial and public safety arguments to sell counties on land banks.

 They’re finding some receptive audiences.

 Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar has been working on a proposal since June.  He says one way he hopes a land bank can help is to buy  properties with years of tax liens against them. 

“We’ve got properties that are on our delinquent list dating well back into the 40s. And … unfortunately, we aren’t getting anybody to be interested in buying them because those taxes are far exceeding fair market value of the land and the buildings on them. And as a result they just keep accumulating those taxes, interest and penalties, and no one is going to buy those.” 

Stark County commissioners will meet this week to discuss Zumbar’s proposal for a land bank. He hopes Stark County will have one operating sometime next year.

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Cuyahoga Valley National Park OK's sharpshooters to thin deer herds
In this article you mention that the Mule Deer Foundation is a "hunting group" in reality the Mule Deer Foundation is a conservation group that is over 25 years...

In the driver's seat of history
I believe he was a teacher of mine as James Ford Rhodes. My favorite teacher of all time! Loved learning this part of his amazing history.

Cleveland RTA is moving Public Square bus stops beginning this week
I am very confused. Why are you taking one or more of the park and ride 246 out of service in the morning. I looking over the new schedule I see that there ar...

Canton school board will vote Wednesday on its high school merger
Great to see that THE REPOSITORY is advising a 'no' vote for now! Another point, besides all the Very accurate points already made against this move is the fac...

Some parents opting their students out of Common Core test
I am an 8th grader at a school in Allen County. I have just recently taken the ELA performance based assessment and found it extremely difficult. It asked me a ...

Fallout from the Ohio Supreme Court Munroe Falls ruling
The comment by Nathan Johnson from OEC is confusing. Instead of cities being 'emboldened' to craft zoning laws that were just stricken down by this ruling, comm...

Stopping sediment dumping in Lake Erie
Ah, yes, the Army Coro of Engineers, the geniuses that designed the levee system in New Orleans that has made the flooding worse due to no sediment reaching the...

Ohio charter school critic says reform bills are a good step
The cold truth is that these charter schools are offering services beyond the what the state tests can guage. Parents and students have a choice and they are ch...

State law trumps restrictions on oil and gas drilling in Munroe Falls
Justice O'Neill's quote brings up a point I wish WKSU would address: since, unlike for Federal judges, our judges here in Ohio are elected, and therefore respo...

Ohio Supreme Court invalidates local fracking bans
If Ohio has their way, Fracking Wells will be planted in the courtyard of every town. That is if the State of Ohio can profit by it...for more on how the court ...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University