Jonesboro considers creating commission to better blighted areas

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A topic of discussion at a specially called Jonesboro City Council meeting was the development of a land bank commission.

The council met on noon Wednesday about the proposal.

Doug Tapp, representing the City of Little Rock Land Bank, presented information about how that city started their land bank.

Little Rock passed an ordinance in 2008 creating the land bank to reverse blight, improve health and safety, and provide affordable housing.

The goal of the land bank is to buy and clean up properties that are unsafe, have city liens against them, or have vacant structures. Those properties are then sold.

Little Rock's commission is made up of 11 volunteers from different areas of town with backgrounds in real estate, community housing, banking, etc.

At the start, the Little Rock's Land Bank Commission focused on areas with a lot of blight. They eventually expanded to the entire city.

The city receives properties from donations, city lien foreclosures, tax delinquent sales, and voluntary purchases. Properties are cleaned up and donated to community development or neighborhood associations. They might also be sold to developers or to those with adjoining lots.

Tapp said their land bank has donated or sold more than 140 properties in the past 13 months. When the properties are sold or donated to a developer, they sign a contract stating they have two years to develop the property.

However, Tapp also mentioned the process is not always a moneymaker for the city with renovation costs but it helps the city in the long run.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said the land bank would provide affordable housing for those in need and help get properties back paying taxes for Jonesboro.

The mayor added the city spends close to $15,000 every year to mow properties, not often getting money from liens on the properties.

Kirsten May was at Wednesday's meeting and has more information tonight on Region 8 News.

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