Gainesville and Hall County are creating a land bank, which is a board that will rehabilitate blighted or vacant properties with the goal of turning them into tax-producing homes that benefit the surrounding neighborhoods.
The Hall County-Gainesville Land Bank will have the authority to acquire, manage and sell vacant properties, which may be sitting empty due to foreclosure, tax delinquency, code violations or title complications. The land bank will not have the power of eminent domain.
The 2012 Georgia Land Bank Act requires cities looking to establish a land bank to work with the county, and counties cannot create a land bank without at least one city involved. Gainesville and Hall County’s land bank board of directors will be appointed by the Gainesville City Council and Hall County Board of Commissioners.
Several other communities in Georgia, including Macon and Bibb County, Atlanta and Fulton County, and Augusta and Richmond County, have established land banks.
Gainesville City Manager Bryan Lackey said the land bank will initially be funded by $200,000 in seed money that has been set aside for the initiative. The land bank will not make a profit from the homes, and any incoming funds will be invested in the properties.
The land bank will work with contractors who will fix the home for a new owner.
“The land bank can take the house and renovate it to put it back into a livable condition … The idea is to get it back on the tax rolls with a private owner,” Lackey said.
The land bank will also be able to hold properties while waiting to acquire other properties in the area if there is potential for larger redevelopment, Lackey said. The board will also have the power to extinguish tax debt with school board consent and accept property donations.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing about the land bank at its meeting on Thursday, May 24. The Gainesville City Council is set to approve the item in June.
Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting
When: 6 p.m. Thursday, May 24
Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville