By DAVID GREEN
Morenci council members heard details Monday about a land bank that could be used to rehabilitate property and prevent foreclosure.
Mayor Keith Pennington and city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder recently attended a meeting to learn about the Lenawee County land bank.
There’s broad debate at the county level about the wisdom of developing a land bank, Pennington told council members, and he questions whether the plan is beneficial.
The majority of tax-foreclosed property in the county failed to sell at the July auction—a situation that had never before happened.
When a property fails to sell, it is typically given to the local government or kept by the county to sell at a later date. If put into a land bank, that agency could make repairs or demolish it for sale of the land.
The land bank concept is being portrayed as a method of taking properties off the market that are being foreclosed on, Pennington said, in hopes of improving them and getting them back on the market.
This could prevent a private investor from buying the property and “flipping” it with a quick resale—either with or without improvements made.
Once the property is placed in the land bank, the city would receive no income tax for at least five years, Pennington said. Promoters of the concept say the city would actually get more in tax revenue once the property is rehabilitated and sold.
LITIGATION—Council members approved a recommendation from the city attorney to end litigation against Kyle Schaffner regarding properties that he owned.
The city went to court after Schaffner failed to allow rental inspection, but Schaffner claimed the properties were sold on land contract and not subject to inspection.
At the current time, explained police chief Larry Weeks, Schaffner is not the owner of record.
TRANSFER—Council approved a letter of support to be sent to the Lenawee Economic Development Commission regarding tax abatements given in the past to Palm Plastics.
The firm is being purchased by Schoeller Arca Systems and the letter supports the transfer of the abatements to the new owner.
PART-TIME—Council approved a request by city supervisor Barney Vanderpool to continue the part-time employment of Joe Baugh until the end of leaf collection.
FIRE DEPARTMENT—Council accepted the resignation of Nick Smith from the Morenci Fire Department and approved Cody Bennett’s application to join the department.
LIABILITY—Schroeder reported that the city liability insurer would not cover the use of the former NWD building for use a haunted house by the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce.