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RDA talks details of landbank

Property redevelopment comes up any time planning for the future is discussed in Warren County.

The idea behind a landbank is to create an entity with the power to acquire and redevelop abandoned or tax-delinquent properties.

The Warren County Redevelopment Authority is in the process of being transformed into such an entity. The board met in special session Thursday to hammer out some of those details. City of Warren staff also participated as the city can’t create its own landbank due to its population.

The goal of Thursday’s meeting was to “generate some draft documents that can be used going forward to make final documents for the launch of a landbank.”

That included a mission statement, policies and procedures as well as bylaws.

But before that discussion, the group undertook a SWOT — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats — analysis of the RDA’s current operations, which primarily focuses on addressing blighted property.

Weaknesses identified included lack of funding, little legal authority as well as the length of time it takes to resolve a blighted property.

Opportunities include being able to flip properties and improve neighborhoods in a way that can partner with city officials while generating funding.

The board sees the threats as public perception that they’re out to take people’s homes and the potential for bad deals as some of the threats.

City representatives asked what happens to liens if the landbank acquires a property and Eggleston said the liens would go away.

“Every property that we deal with, (no one is) going to get that money anyway,” he said, noting that the regulations for the landbank “explicitly takes care of that issue.”

The bylaws details how the entity will be able to acquire properties — via agreement with property owners or through mortgage and delinquent tax sales. Part of the pitch for the landbank has been the creation of a funding stream — a portion of the taxes for the redeveloped properties would return to the landbank for a period of five years.

“The RDA has not really had financial support that is meaningful,” Eggleston noted, stressing the importance of monitoring that funding stream “so that we’re netting a positive position.”

Another issue discussed was, should the city join, how to ensure equitable representation.

Eggleston said that the proceeds from projects in the city and the county can be split and reinvested in those specific locations.

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