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Chautauqua County selected to participate in land bank program

June 6, 2012
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

MAYVILLE - Chautauqua County Executive Gregory J. Edwards announced recently that Chautauqua County has been selected by Empire State Development as one of the first five approved applicants in all of New York State to establish a Land Bank Program.

"I would like to recognize the leadership demonstrated by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and by Empire State Development for their creation of the Land Bank Program," Edwards said. "This program empowers local municipalities to address one of our most significant challenges created by vacant and abandoned properties. We in Chautauqua County are pleased to be one of the first five land banks to be created in New York State and this is a great accomplishment for us as a County."

The concept of Land Banking was identified as a "high priority" action step in Chautauqua County's award-winning Comprehensive Plan- Chautauqua 20/20, which was adopted in April 2011, three months before the Governor launched his initiative. Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development Deputy Director Mark Geise took this concept of land banking and created a rational business-like model to be submitted in the ESD's application process.

In July 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed New York State's Land Bank Program to allow municipalities to create land banks to convert vacant, abandoned or tax-delinquent properties into uses that support community revitalization and the public interest.

Approved applicants for Round 1 include: Chautauqua County; Cities of Buffalo, Lackawanna, Tonawanda and Erie County; City of Syracuse and Onondaga County; City of Schenectady, County of Schenectady and City of Amsterdam; and City of Newburgh.

"Our land bank is a self-supporting venture that will identify and manage foreclosed residential and commercial properties in our cities, towns, and villages to improve them and get them back on the tax roll," Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development Director Bill Daly said. "Ultimately, these improved properties will add market value to surrounding parcels, increasing equity in our neighborhoods."

"Our success in this effort is due in large part to the efforts of our Department of Planning and Economic Development Director Bill Daly, Deputy Director Mark Geise, Center for Community Progress President Dan Kildee and other leaders from across our county who like me are committed to improving the quality of the County's housing stock," Edwards said. "Special thanks go out to Mr. Geise for his exceptional work with developing the financial model."

"When we passed the land bank legislation, I was hopeful that these tools could benefit rural areas in addition to urban settings to address blight and economic revitalization," New York State Senator Catharine Young, (R,C,I Olean) said. "The competition for the land banks was fierce, and Chautauqua County was successful because everyone worked hard and did a professional job. I'm very proud of the county's efforts and commend County Executive Greg Edwards and thank Governor Cuomo."



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