Land Bank Corporation Applies For $3 Million Grant

The Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation is applying for a $3 million grant in the hopes of using the money for a variety of improvements.

The Land Bank Corporation met for a special meeting Monday. The meeting was called to discuss business associated with the acquisition of a property being donated to the land bank.

“Wells Fargo Bank was interested in granting a property over to the land bank, and so I had sent out information to the board members,” said Mark Geise, deputy director of Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Following advice from Steve Abdella, county attorney, Geise said members checked out the property, located in Stockton, for themselves, before meeting to discuss it with a formal board resolution. Geise said the board unanimously approved the acceptance of the property.

The board also spent a significant amount of time discussing a resolution to apply for a grant from the Attorney General’s office. According to Geise, the Attorney General’s office allocated $20 million in grant funding for the seven New York land banks.

“It’s a pot of money that we have to apply for,” Geise said. “So, the application is due Sept. 20. We were brainstorming about what type of programs we want to include in our grant request.”

Geise said the maximum amount of money the land bank can receive from the grant is $3 million, which is what the Land Bank Corporation applied for.

“All said and done, we’re going to ask for $3 million,” Geise said. “Not to say that we’re going to get it, but we’re going to ask for it. That’s the limit, $3 million.”

Some of the ideas the corporation tossed around during its Monday meeting for uses for the money included financial assistance for developers for land bank properties; money to pay closing fees on a side lot disposition program, which enables the land bank to grant side lots to existing property owners; establishing the land bank as a repository for bank-foreclosed properties, which would allow banks to grant properties to the land bank as Wells Fargo did; develop a website and marketing information; funding to help administer programs; and a countywide demolition program.

“(The program) would assist the cities and the rural municipalities in demolishing some high-priority residential and/or commercial properties,” Geise said.

Finally, the Land Bank Corporation also formally accepted the properties the Chautauqua County Legislature approved to be granted over to the land bank. A total of 12 properties were acquired from the tax foreclosure auction. Geise said the resolution passed unanimously.