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Change in land bank law designed to fill more vacant properties

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Kake Pugh

New legislation recently signed into law amends the state’s land bank initiative introduced by the Cuomo administration in 2011.

Land Banks are mechanisms for acquiring or demolishing abandoned properties which are no longer contributing to the tax roll.

The bill removes previous barriers that restricted counties and municipalities from purchasing properties without judicial authorization, allowing them to bid at public sales.

“What we did is change the language to open it up in a broader spectrum so that the county itself can basically pursue properties that are vacant, that are also in foreclosure still, and try to purchase those properties to get them back on the market for tax purposes and to get people living in the property to help bring some type of community stability to an area,” said Republican Senator Mark Grisanti, who sponsored the legislation.

According to the Erie County Department of Real Property Tax Services, there are 73,360 delinquent tax liens in the county. Grisanti says the amended legislation will help put a dent in that number.

“You have a continuing problem with these vacant homes. The amount of the homes that are vacant or that are having this problem is in the tens of thousands. So, this basically allows properties to be occupied by people and be properly maintained,” said Grisanti.

Grisanti says when properties are maintained criminal activity will be reduced.

The state has authorized land banks in other parts of upstate including Chautauqua County, Rochester, and Syracuse. Democratic Assemblyman Sean Ryan also lobbied for the passage of the land bank improvement legislation.