On August 15, 2019, the Michigan Land Bank Authority announced the creation of county land banks in Dickinson, Eaton and Huron Counties. Creation of these land banks will provide these counties with additional tools for returning vacant and blighted property to productive use.
“Creating Land Banks in these communities is a positive step toward transforming vacant properties in the Upper Peninsula, Mid-Michigan and Thumb regions,” State Land Bank Interim Director Jeff Huntington said. “I am certain their efforts will serve as a valuable economic and community driver and I look forward to working with each Land Bank in the future to help strengthen and revitalize their counties.”
Michigan is unique in that all properties that are accepted into a land bank’s inventory are automatically designated as brownfields, whether or not there is any real or perceived contamination. I (Storm Cunningham) learned this while keynoting their annual conference in Battle Creek in 2017. This policy has the advantage of making more funds available for land bank properties, but it strikes me as a bit dangerous, in terms of reducing resources for genuinely contaminated sites.
“I’m excited Huron County is establishing a land bank authority,” said Huron County Treasurer Debra McCollum. “We look forward to coordinating with our county agencies, cities, villages and townships to improve the quality of our area for both local residents and visitors.”
The State Land Bank works statewide to help communities with blight and abandoned or vacant property. Creation of a land bank at the local level creates more opportunity for greater engagement within the community as well as returning unproductive properties back to the local tax roll.
“The new Eaton County Land Bank Authority will give us the economic development tools we need to put as many tax foreclosed properties back onto the tax roll,” said Eaton County Treasurer Bob Robinson. “Land Banks excel at removing blight from local communities, repairing title problems and dealing with properties that otherwise have no market value. This new authority will support positive outcomes that serve the county and local communities.”
Prior to the creation of a local land bank, the state was the primary resource for land banking in Eaton, Dickinson and Huron County. With the creation of these local land banks, the state will move into a supporting role, helping these counties as needed with technical assistance for demolition and redevelopment as well as other tools needed as they build their teams and begin work in their official capacity.
“Creating a land bank authority in Dickinson County opens up many opportunities for our community. Our hope is this land bank allows us to eliminate blight and create more economic opportunities for our county,” said Dickinson County Treasurer Lorna Carey.
In addition to the State Land Bank’s 2500+ available properties, local land banks also have inventory with a significant number of available properties.