County Land Bank Makes Changes To Demolition Policy

There has been a change to the 50/50 match for the costs of demolitions between municipalities and the Chautauqua County Land Bank.

On Wednesday, the county Land Bank board passed a resolution changing its policy for the 50/50 match for demolitions with municipalities from per property. Mark Geise, county Land Bank executive director, said the change was made because the money it received from the Office of Attorney General can only be used for demolitions on properties owned by the Land Bank, the county or a municipality. It cannot use the money to demolish homes that are still privately owned. Last year, the county Land Bank received more than $1.5 million from the state Attorney General’s Office, with the major use for the money being demolishing condemned houses.

Even though the money from New York state cannot be used to demolish houses still privately owned, municipalities can use their own funds to demolish these condemned properties. Geise said there are an equal amount of condemned properties owned by the county Land Bank, the county and municipalities compared to those privately owned.

”So it balances out,” Geise said.

In other business, the board also passed a resolution to change how it accepts donated properties. Geise said last year Wells Fargo donated property to the county Land Bank and has now donated two more properties this year. He said the bylaws for the county Land Bank read it can only accept donated property with the board’s approval. However, to expedite the process, the board passed a resolution to only now require the approval of the county Land Bank’s executive director and board chairman, Peter Lombardi, Jamestown Renaissance Corporation deputy director.

On a related note, one of the properties donated to the county Land Bank is a property city officials already demolished. Vince DeJoy, city development director, said it was a ”success story” for the city. The property was demolished because it presented a safety risk to its neighborhood. He said after the demolition, city officials tried to get the costs paid for by the title owner. DeJoy said in many cases the city’s money is usually not reimbursed, but this time it was different. He said the bank paid for the demolish costs.

For more information on the county Land Bank, visit www.planningchautauqua.com/?q=content/chautauqua-county-land-bank.