The Lawrence County courthouse

The Lawrence County commissioners are planning to form a land bank authority or commission.

At their regular meeting Tuesday, they voted to introduce an ordinance that would establish an 11-member group who would be responsible for acquiring, holding and disposing of vacant properties throughout the county. The goal under the measure would be to return vacant, blighted, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties to productive use.

Commissioner Chairman Dan Vogler explained that such a vehicle was recommended by the Lawrence County Redevelopment Authority, the members of which had discussed creating the land bank at some of its recent meetings. The idea also was recommended as part of the county's comprehensive plan that was adopted in April.

The ordinance would require that five of the members of the new authority would be members of the redevelopment authority, and the rest would be appointed by the commissioners. The members must be county residents and would serve for five-year terms.

The land bank authority provisions are included in State Act 153 of 2012, which also allows municipalities and cities to establish their own land banks.

Commissioner Bob Del Signore said it would be better for municipalities to join the county's program, "so we can make sure we're getting blocks of land that can be reused. Hopefully, that's what's going to happen."

Vogler said that some revisions will probably be made to the recommended ordinance before it is advertised and put on public display.

Under the ordinance, the board would retain the proceeds from the sales of the properties to cover or contribute to its operating costs, maintenance of inventory and to support additional strategic property acquisition.

As written, the commissioners hope to adopt the ordnance effective Oct. 3.


Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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