0602 land bank meeting

Richland County Land Bank had its regular meeting on Wednesday.

MANSFIELD ─ Seven years after its establishment, the Richland County Land Bank will help a neighboring county start the same agency.

The land bank board approved a contract of services with Morrow County on Wednesday. Richland County will provide the neighbor various assistance in starting a land bank and receive a compensation of $15,000 in total.

Amy Hamrick, Richland County Land Bank’s manager, said the two counties have been in conversations about the subject for many years.

There are three phases in the 18-month contract, according to the document presented to the board on Wednesday. Richland County will offer Morrow County drafts of Richland County’s land reutilization corporation code of regulations and other necessary documents in the first phase.

Richland County will also help develop the policies of the Morrow County Land Bank along with the procedures for acquisition and disposition of properties.

In the second phase, Richland County will facilitate the Morrow County Land Bank entering into Memoranda of Understanding with all municipalities and townships within its jurisdiction. It will also assist Morrow County in property inspection and writing bid specifications.

Richland County will keep providing ongoing phone and email support following the initiation of the new land bank’s operation, according to the contract.

Bart Hamilton, chair of the board and the County Treasurer, said Morrow County is much smaller than Richland County, so it would have to adapt what it has been doing accordingly -- which will help it learn something on the way, too.

While Richland County hired Western Reserve Land Conservancy to help organize the land bank, Hamilton said many issues came up and there were not many people to turn to. With Richland County's help, Morrow County has someone to call when encountering challenges in future meetings, Hamilton said.

The Richland County Land Bank was established in November 2013. It recently marked a milestone of transferring 1,000 parcels. Among the transfers, 648 were vacant lots, 283 involved demolitions.

In terms of new development on these properties, two single-family and four multi-family-houses with 14 units in total were built, according to the land bank.    

The board voted for more transfers on Wednesday, including multiple parcels on Harker Street for Oasis of Love Church. Hamrick said the church will use the lots for additional parking for its community events.

Hamrick said about 90 percent of the parcels owned by the land bank are properties that did not sell at the sheriff’s sale and were forfeited to Ohio. A few of them were donations. The land bank, on average, has more than 400 parcels on the list of available properties.

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