City/County Land Bank Moves Forward
City/County Land Bank Moves Forward
Poughkeepsie City Council Takes First Step Toward Land Bank Formation
The Poughkeepsie Common Council Tuesday passed a resolution taking the first legislative step to create a land bank in partnership with Dutchess County.
Land banks have been an important tool in helping communities return vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties to productive use. Under the New York State Land Bank Program, local municipalities can apply to create land bank not-for-profit corporations in their communities for purpose of acquiring real property parcels that are tax delinquent or foreclosed, vacant and/or abandoned, and utilize tools through the program to eliminate the harms and liabilities caused by such properties.
City of Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County officials, including representatives of the Common Council and the County Legislature, as well as City staff and County staff from the Departments of Finance, Law and Planning and Development, have been working for the past year to develop the process to form a City/County Land bank. The working group created a proposed structure and priorities for the land bank and identified how properties could be transferred to the land bank. This work resulted in a Certificate of Incorporation and a proposed Inter-Municipal Agreement (IMA) between the City and the County. The land bank will be a valuable asset in providing an additional method to deal with properties that are not currently desirable in the private market and will encourage redevelopment and neighborhood stabilization.
Both the City and the County will identify properties for transfer to the land bank, and the County will provide initial startup funding, pending approval of the IMA by the Dutchess County Legislature.
City Council Chair Sarah Salem and Council Member Sarah Brannen, who both participate on the working group, co-sponsored the resolution, authorizing application to the Empire State Development, which administers the NYS Land Bank Program. The resolution was unanimously approved.
“The Common Council has taken an important step toward creating a land bank that will benefit the entire city by addressing our vacant and abandoned properties, as well as supporting access to affordable home ownership and building our tax base,” Brannen said. “I’m grateful for the support of my colleagues in city government and look forward to working with them, community members, and the county in the coming months to bring this land bank to Poughkeepsie.”
“Land banks are established to complement other strategies and activities that are already underway in communities and engage with parcels that private buyers have rejected to get them back on the market in a thoughtful way, turning liabilities into assets,” Salem said. “The Dutchess County-Poughkeepsie Land Bank presents an even more innovative tool for our use against the plight of vacant and abandoned properties in the diversity of stock that comes from city and county assets. A positive partnership putting us on a more viable path toward affordable homeownership, historic preservation and building wealth for our community.”
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “We’re eager to partner with the City of Poughkeepsie to address properties that are vacant and abandoned, to create a new and strategic way to acquire problem properties and convert these liabilities into assets for the community.”
The proposed land bank would have nine board members — two appointed each by the Common Council, County Legislature, the Mayor and the County Executive – and one being a joint city and county appointee.
“We’re excited about the prospect of a land bank,” said Mayor Rob Rolison “It will be another tool in our toolbox as we continue to make headway in our ‘anti-blight’ campaign.”
Mayor Rolison created an Anti-Blight Task Force in 2018, which brings together internal and external stakeholders, including Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together Dutchess and Hudson River Housing. Since its inception, the task force has addressed approximately 200 vacant properties. The city had slightly more than 600 in 2018; that number is now approximately 400. The strategy has involved bolstering housing code enforcement, tracking and monitoring vacant properties and locating missing owners who have walked away from their properties.
The next step in creating the Land Bank will be the authorization of the Inter-Municipal agreement by the Dutchess County Legislature. A presentation is expected to be made to the full Legislature with a vote on a resolution to be held in May. Following the anticipated passage of the resolution, the working group will submit an application to New York Empire State Development for the creation of the Dutchess County-Poughkeepsie Land Bank in June.
Gregg Pulver, Chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature, said, “Land banks offer an innovative way to address problems that, in some cases, have been decades in the making. We look forward to the upcoming presentation and presenting this opportunity to the full Legislature for consideration.” “All over New York, land banks are helping communities envision the futures they want, and through a publicly accountable structure, transform blighted properties into safer neighborhoods with opportunities for affordable homeownership,” said Dutchess County Legislator Rebecca Edwards, who has been part of the county/city working group exploring this issue.