Keep Crisp Beautiful hosts town hall meeting

CORDELE, Ga. — A town hall meeting was held at South Georgia Technical College Thursday night regarding the possible implementation of a Land Bank in Cordele/Crisp County.

Blighted, abandoned properties often with dilapidated structures and trash-filled lots, are becoming a problem in the community. They are not just eyesores. They present a myriad of problems and potential hazards for the community. Some of those issues include causing property values and tax revenues to decrease and even posing a threat to public safety. 

Community leaders and citizens attended the meeting presented by Keep Crisp Beautiful to gain some insight into the benefits of a Land Bank Authority.

Chip Wells is chairman of Keep Crisp Beautiful.

“A land bank would be an entity that’s formed through intergovernmental agreements. In this case it would be Crisp County and the City of Cordele. These blighted properties are acquired by the Land Bank and then they are offered up for re-development. The advantage of the Land Bank with the city and county doing it on their own is you’re able to much more easily get a clear title and also clear up any tax liens. Developers can get the property without having those two obstacles to overcome.”

Wells introduced Chris Norman as the guest speaker for the meeting. Norman, who serves as executive director of the Fulton County/Atlanta Land Bank is the president of the Georgia Land Bank Association. 

“At the end of the day this is what we all want, code compliant properties, tax producing properties and we want occupied structures because typically if properties are not occupied bad things happen in and around them. We want people to maintain their property and structures. Sometimes we just want to create some shared community space. Land Banks are tools that have a focused mission. Their mission is to focus on acquiring, managing and moving these to a productive use.”

Following his presentation, Norman opened the floor for citizen input and questions. Though the Land Bank may not solve all the issues surrounding blighted and abandoned properties it seems it would serve as a step in the right direction.