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Land Bank OKs agreement with Housing Authority

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The Griffin-Spalding Land Bank Authority will serve as a land bank depository for the Griffin Housing Authority.

The deal, approved by both authorities, allows the Housing Authority to compile land, have the Land Bank hold it so the Housing Authority does not have to pay taxes on it until they take it back to sell or develop.

Land Bank Executive Director John Joiner explained the “whole intent is to cut down on their holding costs.”

Joiner said, “they have the obligations to maintain the properties and if they don’t, we can charge them for it.”

Joiner said the land is donated to the Land Bank by the Housing Authority with a right to reclaim it.

“It allows it to be held,” he explained, “while they are assembling lots for redevelopment.”

Land Bank Chairman Newton Galloway said he was “willing to see how it goes,” and made a motion to approve the agreement, with terms for one year, which passed unanimously.

According to the agreement, the depositor “shall furnish the Land Bank with a clear and unequivocal indemnification agreement to insure the Land Bank shall not be liable or responsible for any lien, mortgage or other encumberance.”

And at the time of the transfer, “no third party shall have any lease, license, permit or other occupancy or use rights,” on the property. The depositor shall have the option at any time, according to the agreement, “to repurchase the property at an amount equal to the sum of the costs of all expenditures by the Land Bank and “an amount determined by the Land Bank, as the average indirect cost on a per parcel basis of holding its portfolio.”

The Land Bank will be presenting a related matter to the Griffin-Spalding County Board of Education related to regarding the Land Bank waiving back taxes with the consent of the School Board on properties conveyed to the Land Bank and then transferred or sold. The Land Bank, under state law, had the ability to extinguish past due taxes and tax liens on property that it has disposed of, including any interest and penalties owed to Spalding County, the City of Griffin or the Griffin-Spalding County School District.

Land Bank member Jim Smith — who is also the Griffin-Spalding County School Superintendent — questioned a vote by the Land Bank on the matter until it had been approved by the School Board first. Galloway agreed, and moved to have the Land Bank vote on it next month, following approval by the School Board.

Joiner explained this (the approval) had not been done before, and it’s being done now for the benefit of the tax commissioner to justify the extinguishing to the back taxes in her records. Going forward, “we will do it with each one,” Joiner said, adding “this one is for the 25 done so far.”

The 25 parcels sold or transferred so far by the Land Bank include 105, 112, 114, 115, 117, 120, 123 and 124 Lynn Lane, which were transferred to Square Foot Ministries which has combined some of the lots and built new homes; and 522 Meriwether St., which is the former city hospital and Haisten funeral home, which was listed as one of the Places in Peril by the Georgia Historical Society, was slated for demolition but is currently being renovated, after being marketed by the local Historical Society.

Also on the list are 822, 855 and 857 Westbrook St., 108 Leo St., 414 Jefferson St., 131 East Chappell St., 2378 South Walkers Mill Road, 114 Crawford St., 438 Lakeview St., 315 North 6th St., 820 Scales St., 709 English St., 110 Pearl St., 403 Seven Forks Road, 31 Swint Road, and a parcel on McIntosh Road.

The total amount of delinquent taxes being extinguished on those 25 parcels, according to information provided by the Land Bank, is $63,725.32.