“The purpose of the land bank is to control the reuse and redevelopment of the property, as opposed to property that goes to a foreclosure that is now owned by the highest bidder,” Updegrove said.
The land bank can investigate the possible contamination, determine a cleanup cost estimate and perhaps even begin work through the DEC’s Brownfield Cleanup Program, Klyczek said.
“If we can get a lot of that work done ahead of time, we then put ourselves ahead of a lot of other places in terms of attracting brownfield developers into our county. It’s setting the stage for future development, and that’s what’s important,” Klyczek said.
“The developer can take on the cleanup, because there are programs available for the developers of these properties,” Updegrove said. “There are tax credits and other incentives available for developers.”
The Buffalo News revealed in 2007 that the county was in effect waiving taxes on brownfields by not foreclosing on them, but not until 2018 did the county make its first effort to grapple with the issue.
That’s when Andrews foreclosed on a strip plaza in the Town of Niagara with 24 years of unpaid taxes, and turned the property over to the town.
The county Brownfield Development Corp. gave the town $325,000 for demolition of the 1.15-acre plaza at 4435 Military Road, which had included a service station, tire store, dry cleaner and pizzeria.