A land bank is a government entity that converts vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties back to productive use. It can act to facilitate the movement of problem properties back to tax-paying status.
Land banks have unique powers to:
- Acquire, hold/manage, and dispose of property;
- Discharge and be assigned tax liens; and
- File quiet title actions
After acquiring property, the land bank will look to hold onto parcels for a minimum amount of time, therefore to avoid the cost of managing those parcels over a long period. This will require agreement from developers and landholders beforehand to take these problem properties and turn them back to productive uses. In the event that property is “underwater”, where tax liens are worth more than the value of the property, the land bank has unique powers to clear those liens. And in the process of quieting title, the land bank can do this with a relatively quick turnaround.
Pottstown Land Bank
On November 13th, 2017, the Borough of Pottstown passed a Land Bank Ordinance. It will be administered by Pottstown Area Industrial Development (PAID).
The land bank disposition policy for the borough is as follows:
- Owner-occupied market rate housing units;
- Retail, commercial, and industrial activities, including mixed-use development;
- Housing options for every income level;
- Vacant residential parcels conveyed to neighboring property owners for side and rear yards;
- Urban agriculture and community garden space; and
- Public purpose
In addition, land banks must consider locally adopted land-use plans and make a concerted effort to coordinate the disposition of parcels according to those plans.