LEAVENWORTH — When they met this week, Leavenworth city commissioners reviewed a proposal for establishing a land bank that could manage and sell tax-foreclosed and abandoned properties in the city.
Leavenworth Director of Planning and Community Development Julie Hurley and Community Development Coordinator Mary Dwyer discussed the idea Tuesday with commissioners.
“There are several cities in Kansas that already have used land banks,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer said a land bank may help eliminate vacant lots by reducing the number of properties commissioners order demolished because they are deemed unsafe.
She said owners could agree to donate their properties to a Leavenworth land bank. If owners of a property cannot be found, an attorney can clear the title for the property on behalf of the land bank.
The land bank can then sell the properties to people who are interested in restoring them.
Dwyer said operating a lank bank would require cooperation from the county government for possibly foregoing taxes owed on properties.
Dwyer said establishing a land bank would require an upfront cost for legal work.
She said a land bank would need to have a governing body with members appointed either by the mayor or the entire City Commission.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Mayor Jermaine Wilson said.
He said the program can help return properties to the tax rolls.
Other members of the City Commission also expressed support for the idea.
City Manager Paul Kramer said commissioners may be briefed in about 60 days regarding progress on the proposal.
“We do plan to start small,” he said.