MAYVILLE - The Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation is off and running.
In fact, five foreclosed and abandoned properties throughout the county have already been targeted for acquisition. Not bad, officials note, considering the corporation is still in its infancy.
"We're following through with the model we laid out for the direction we will go in as we discussed with the state," said Mark Geise, Planning and Economic Development deputy director - who helped the county obtain one of the first land bank statuses in the state.
Five such land banks were approved in May by the state, and allow local governments to acquire foreclosed and abandoned properties in order to return them to their respective tax rolls.
Geise will discuss the first five properties selected for acquisition during the legislature's upcoming Administrative Services Committee meeting. Those properties include two in Jamestown, two in Dunkirk and one in Fredonia.
More information, including specific addresses, will be unveiled Monday.
"This will be kind of an informal session," Geise said. "We just want to let the legislators know what the process is. The legislature will have to approve our choices, as we discussed in our original resolution."
Geise said an ad-hoc committee has been established to evaluate properties throughout the county that might benefit from the land bank program. He added that all choices would need approval from the corporation and legislature.
There are three types of properties the county land bank corporation will acquire: type A, type B and type C. Type A properties, which are obtained before or during an auction, can be sold to a reputable buyer with little-to-no renovations required.
Type B properties, many of which do not sell at auction, may require some work before it can be sold; type C properties, Geise said, are ones which need to be demolished.
"We have a rating criteria that we use that fits into our mission," Geise said. "These properties, in many cases, are some of the worst properties on the block. If they continue to decline, it's only a matter of time before some people on the block give up and leave.
"Before you know it, there's three houses that are like that. ... Over time, you're bringing up the assessed value of all those other properties."
Any revenue generated through the land bank will go back into the corporation, some of which may be used to renovate or demolish a property.
County Executive Greg Edwards said he was pleased to see the land bank corporation move forward.
"This is another exciting step in the process in dealing in a much more effective way to deal with foreclosed properties," Edwards said. "They have identified properties that have fit the model. It's a self-funding business model."
The land bank corporation, and its initial board of directors, was approved in March by county lawmakers
The initial board includes James Caflisch, county director of real property tax; legislators Larry Barmore, R-Gerry, and Minority Leader Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown; Steven Centi, Jamestown Department of Development; and Steve Neratko, Dunkirk Department of Development.
Geise said the legislature may have the power to approve the five selected properties as early as July.
"Right now we're still just getting involved," he said. "By then we should be ready."