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.

Knight Foundation

Hospice of the Western Reserve


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

Portman predicts McDonald's confirmation, but says it won't be easy
I sent the following note to Senator Blumenthal after reading commentary from yesterday's hearing: Senator, You certainly have the right to ask Mr. McDonald que...

Seven minutes changed everything, but what changed Ashford Thompson?
He shot the guy four times in the head. I have never been that drunk or mad, and I have been through it. Shoot a guy once is bad, maybe a mistake, shoot a guy f...

First cricket farm in the U.S. opens in Youngstown
I am interested in cricket flour to replace soy flour in a low carbohydrate diet. As soon as you have cricket flour available for the average person, please le...

New process starts digesting sludge in Wooster
Awesome! When do our sewage rates decrease accordingly?

Akron's Chapel Hill Mall in foreclosure
Not a surprise. Between the shoplifting, gangs and violence that goes on up there it is no wonder that no one feels safe to shop at Chapel Hill. They have sca...

Ohio launches investigation into at least one Concept charter school
I worked at Noble Academy Cleveland as admin assistant and enrolment coordinator for 6 years, I know this is so valid and true and can provide staff names and p...

Crisis looms in filling aviation industry jobs in Ohio and the nation
I listened to this story yesterday morning on the radio and just want to add this comment. My son went to school to train as an air traffic controller, and gra...

Cuyahoga Valley National Park considers fire to fight invasives
I'm for the controlled burn. There are not enough people (myself included) who volunteer for the removal of invasive plant species. Therefore, another solution ...

Copyright © 2014 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