County Makes Landbank Pitch to Council

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WARREN, Pa. – The Warren City Council heard a presentation from Commissioner Jeff Eggleston during Monday’s meeting regarding the county landbank initiative.

The landbank is moving forward at the county level, a way to augment the county’s Redevelopment Authority.

Resolutions will be sent to municipalities in the coming weeks, with Eggleston noting several already on board.

“In August, the county passed an ordinance that gave the RDA landbank powers,” Eggleston said. “Now we’re trying to bring all the municipalities on board.”

A landbank is a government or non-profit entity established to temporarily manage and dispose of vacant property for the purpose of stabilizing neighborhoods and encouraging re-use or redevelopment.

“The landbank gives the RDA more tools to address blight and redevelopment,” Eggleston said. “It also gives them authority to clear title and allows them to get involved in the tax claim process. It makes it easier for the RDA to receive and purchase property. Most of the properties we deal with are at the end of the line.”

Eggleston explained that the city and county RDA would work in lockstep should the city approve to come on board.

“The city and county RDA would collaborate to address properties within the city,” Eggleston said. “Obviously the city has the largest concentration of property in the county and it’s a good place to focus.”

Councilman Maurice Cashman questioned who would be overseeing the landbank.

“Who is going to look over this on an active basis?” Cashman asked.

“The county staff would be the ones working the landbank,” Eggleston said. “The intention is to have a staff member become a full-time executive director of the RDA to be a lead on it. We’re willing to collaborate on anything anybody’s willing to do.”

Cashman also questioned the financial viability of the landbank.

“It’s not a money-making enterprise,” Eggleston said. “It’s about how you efficiently remediate properties that are in trouble. We do get multiple bids to multiple properties and put them into one pool and remediate them.”

Eggleston noted that Sheffield, Pleasant, and Youngsville are among the municipalities that have been receptive to the landbank.

“The next steps are within the next week, we will send you a draft resolution,” Eggleston said. “It just buys you into the intergovernmental co-op agreement. You can pass it at any time next month.”