WILMINGTON — With the launch of a county land bank getting closer, it appears the local rate for demolishing blighted, abandoned properties will likely be increasing in Clinton County.
Robin Darden Thomas, the land bank program director with Western Reserve Land Conservancy out of Cleveland, met Wednesday with Clinton County commissioners.
The Clinton County land bank will have to apply for demolition funds, Thomas said.
Applications are scored on a scale of 100 points, and if the local application gets at least 60 points, the Clinton County land bank will receive $500,000 for demolitions, she told commissioners.
The demolition dollars that a land bank applies for come from the Hardest Hit Fund, first created in February 2010. The Hardest Hit Fund has provided billions to 18 states and the District of Columbia hit hardest by the economic and housing market downturn.
Another point Thomas made is that the local land bank, or more formally the Clinton County Land Re-utilization Corporation, is a private, non-profit corporation — even though it was formed by government.
Clinton County Commissioner Patrick Haley asked Thomas about governmental oversight toward land banks, and also to what extent land banks are “bureaucratic.”
Land bank operations are monitored by authorities, she said. Thomas added that the bureaucratic rules that do exist are not difficult to satisfy, citing the experiences of other land banks in Ohio.
A land bank addresses vacant, abandoned properties and tax-delinquent properties.
Land banks first emerged in the 1960s as an urban planning tool, according to a brief history on the Western Reserve Land Conservancy website.
In Ohio, a new form of land bank was established in 2008 when state legislators passed a bill allowing Cuyahoga County commissioners to create the first modern land bank, states the history article.
“The success of Ohio’s first land bank in Cuyahoga County led to subsequent legislation expanding eligibility first to all counties with populations over 60,000 and later to all counties in the state,” the article adds. The 2010 census said Clinton County’s population was 42,040.
The same website article states the mission of county land banks, in general, is “to strategically acquire properties, and return them to productive use, reducing blight, increasing property values, supporting community goals, and improving the quality of life for county residents.”
In other business:
• A request to permit alcohol for a “Battle of the Bands” event at the county fairgrounds was not acted upon, pending further information about the applicant, Empowering Life Without Limits. Commissioners said they are not familiar with the group and wanted to learn more before taking action.
Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said when there is to be alcohol on the fairground property, commissioners normally have “a little background information before approving that.”
• Commissioners gave their consent to have county government computers assessed via cyber security vulnerability scans offered by the County Risk Sharing Authority (CORSA). CORSA is a liability risk sharing pool sponsored by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio.
• Steed recommended extra maintenance for the fairground’s horse arena in order to improve the condition of the outdoor arena’s surface. He noted there is some money left over from the fairgrounds driveway construction project.
Clinton County Commissioner President Mike Curry said he spoke with a fair board officer about the arena surface Tuesday evening. The project would involve masonry sand or some other type of sand that’s finer than limestone sand.
Curry said firm figures should first be obtained on how much money is left from the driveway project, and how many tons of sand are needed.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.