Gainesville City Council will vote Tuesday, Aug. 7 to establish the Gainesville-Hall County Land Bank, the last step in approving the effort to rehabilitate vacant or blighted properties.
The land bank will be able to acquire, manage and sell properties that may be sitting empty due to foreclosure, tax delinquency, code violations or title complications. The land bank will not have the power to exercise eminent domain or levy taxes.
“This allows us to address some of those homes that are unoccupied or vacant, or even if they are occupied, the economic value of them are so low that the owner says, ‘I don’t see the value of putting something into this home,’” Gainesville City Manager Bryan Lackey said.
The land bank will be initially funded by $200,000 invested by the city of Gainesville, and it will not make a profit from sale of the properties. Any incoming dollars would be spent on the homes.
The goal is for the land bank to work with contractors to fix the homes and make them livable. The goal is to improve the quality of housing and ensure properties are tax-producing, Lackey said.
“We’re excited that not only can we address neighborhoods within the city, but with our partnership with the county we can address other neighborhoods within the county, particularly those neighborhoods that are on the outskirts of Gainesville where a lot of people think they’re in the city but we have very little control over them,” Lackey said.
The 2012 Georgia Land Bank Act requires counties and at least one city to collaborate to establish a land bank. Cities cannot create a land bank without involving the county, and counties need to work with at least one city.
Several other Georgia communities, including Fulton County and Atlanta, Bibb County and Macon, and Decatur and DeKalb County, have established land banks.
Gainesville and Hall’s land bank will have a board of directors appointed by city and county officials. The board members, who will not be compensated, will be appointed within 90 days of establishment of the land bank, according to the ordinance.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners already approved the land bank June 14.