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Rescuing blighted land: Legislators announce members of board of county land bank


Wed, Sep 13th 2017 08:20 pm
Niagara County lawmakers publicly announced the membership of the board of directors of the county's new land bank on Tuesday night.
The Niagara-Orleans Regional Land Improvement Corp., a regional landbank spearheaded by county economic planners that includes the cities of Lockport, North Tonawanda, and Niagara Falls, as well as neighboring Orleans County, is designed to provide local governments a tool for coping with urban blight and restoring properties in tax foreclosure to useful, developable, taxable land.
"With the decision to put forward a list of directors, Niagara County and our partners are moving forward with an effective approach to forcing the redevelopment and repair of otherwise usable properties, so that they don't sit idle and vacant, so they don't become eyesores, so that they get the rehabilitation they need," said Legislator Kathryn Lance, R-Wheatfield, economic development committee chairwoman.
The Niagara County Legislature's majority leader added that he sees this as having a "stabilizing" impact on neighborhoods.
"We want to protect neighborhoods in our communities from the adverse impact of declining housing stock," Majority Leader Randy R. Bradt, R-North Tonawanda said. "This protects the surrounding property values and likewise protects our residents' quality of life. We're particularly hopeful that this can serve as a tool to continue ongoing efforts to improve our Oliver Street business district and nearby homes."
The chairman of the Niagara County Legislature was also bullish about the impact the land bank will have on his hometown.
Legislature Chairman Wm. Keith McNall, R-Lockport, said, "Stabilizing the housing stock in older neighborhoods like South Street is a critical goal of this effort. Vacant housing rates in that area are of concern to the city, and this is a powerful tool for them to counteract that."
The board consists of Commissioner of Economic Development Sam Ferraro, Niagara County Manager Rick Updegrove, Treasurer Kyle Andrews, North Tonawanda Code Enforcement Officer Rob DePaolo, Greater Lockport Development Corp. President Brian Smith, Niagara Falls Senior Planner Tom DeSantis and Orleans County Legislature Chairman E. John DeFilipps.

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