THE FIRST OFFICIAL MEETING of the new Shiawassee County Land Bank Authority (LBA) was held at the Surbeck building, Monday morning, March 7. Part of the meeting was organizational: appointing officers. Those appointed included Vice Chairperson Cameron Horvath, Treasurer Jerry Meyer and Secretary Greg Brodeur. The chairperson is Shiawassee County Treasurer Julie Sorensen as the Land Bank Authority falls under her office.

   The Shiawassee County Land Bank Authority is a new arm of county government intended to work toward economic impact by promoting development and redevelopment of vacant properties and/or land and capture tax revenue on those properties.

   Shown are (from left) Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership President/CEO Justin Horvath, acting as economic liaison; LBA Treasurer Jerry Meyer (Metro Mortgage and the Home Builders Association); Durand City Manager and LBA Vice Chair Cameron Horvath, Shiawassee County Board Chair and LBA Secretary Greg Brodeur, Shiawassee County Treasurer and LBA Chair Julie Sorensen, LBA Trustee Mark Fraser and Shiawassee County Coordinator Dr. Brian Boggs. 

   Note: Justin Horvath and Cameron Horvath do not share a known-about relation.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)

 

   The first meeting of the new Shiawassee County Land Bank Authority (LBA) took place on Monday, March 7 in downtown Corunna. The primary focus of the meeting was to discuss the overall purpose of the land bank authority, appoint officers and approve of Articles of Incorporation – a must for the new county branch of government.

   Following the vote, the land bank authority includes Shiawassee County Treasurer and LBA Chairperson Julie Sorensen, LBA Vice Chair Cameron Horvath, LBA Treasurer Jerry Meyer, Shiawassee County Board Chair and LBA Secretary Greg Brodeur, LBA Trustee Mark Fraser and Shiawassee County Coordinator Dr. Brian Boggs. Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership President/CEO Justin Horvath will be acting as an economic liaison. The organization will retain current legal representation through Eric Morris, the county corporate attorney through Braun Kendrick. Morris was in attendance on Monday.

   Early in the meeting, Sorensen shared, “The first item on the agenda was to kind of do an overview of the land bank. It’s all new to me. It’s going to be a learning experience. I think Justin (Horvath) has a lot more experience in working with the properties and development…”

   “I don’t ever want it to become a landlord of rentals,” Sorensen stated. “I don’t want to have umpteen properties we have to take care of. I hope we don’t see it working that way. I hope it works in developing sites and helping us with housing and businesses and such.”

   In basic terms, a land bank is an entity assembled to temporarily manage and dispose of vacant land for development and/or redevelopment. As a governmental organization, a land bank engages in financing the transactions of said properties, often foreclosed properties, as one method of boosting real estate market/development interest and encouraging property tax growth. Ideally, the Shiawassee County Land Bank Authority will bring further investment into the county.

  The first meeting of the new Shiawassee County Land Bank Authority (LBA) took place on Monday, March 7 in downtown Corunna. The primary focus of the meeting was to discuss the overall purpose of the land bank authority, appoint officers and approve of Articles of Incorporation – a must for the new county branch of government.

   Following the vote, the land bank authority includes Shiawassee County Treasurer and LBA Chairperson Julie Sorensen, LBA Vice Chair Cameron Horvath, LBA Treasurer Jerry Meyer, Shiawassee County Board Chair and LBA Secretary Greg Brodeur, LBA Trustee Mark Fraser and Shiawassee County Coordinator Dr. Brian Boggs. Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership President/CEO Justin Horvath will be acting as an economic liaison. The organization will retain current legal representation through Eric Morris, the county corporate attorney through Braun Kendrick. Morris was in attendance on Monday.

   Early in the meeting, Sorensen shared, “The first item on the agenda was to kind of do an overview of the land bank. It’s all new to me. It’s going to be a learning experience. I think Justin (Horvath) has a lot more experience in working with the properties and development…”

   “I don’t ever want it to become a landlord of rentals,” Sorensen stated. “I don’t want to have umpteen properties we have to take care of. I hope we don’t see it working that way. I hope it works in developing sites and helping us with housing and businesses and such.”

   In basic terms, a land bank is an entity assembled to temporarily manage and dispose of vacant land for development and/or redevelopment. As a governmental organization, a land bank engages in financing the transactions of said properties, often foreclosed properties, as one method of boosting real estate market/development interest and encouraging property tax growth. Ideally, the Shiawassee County Land Bank Authority will bring further investment into the county.

   The start for most property entered into the land bank will begin with foreclosures at the Shiawassee County Treasurer’s Office. County foreclosures in Shiawassee are far less than Genesee County or some other counties. The LBA will not be forced to take on every piece of property with consideration given to properties containing liabilities.

   Dr. Boggs emphasized the major purpose of the land bank will be economic development through repurposing, renewing and reconnecting. “We will work to identify new purposes for land that may have become fragmented or no longer associated with a current use,” he explained. Boggs also shared that because the LBA will have an IRS EIN/taxpayer identification number, it is essentially a new branch of government.

   “I think this is a wonderful board,” offered Justin Horvath of SEDP. “People are dedicated to supporting the role of development here in Shiawassee County. This is a tool and we really do want to drive forward some economic opportunity for the community. Land banks have been something that have been around for a long time, but I would say in our profession, they have not been historically thought of as economic development. I do think many people have a perception that it is linked to troubled properties and blighted properties and brownfields because that has been very prominent in some of our larger communities like Flint and Detroit. But for us here in Shiawassee County, we can look at this as being proactive in terms of utilizing this tool to be able to support new projects.”

   Justin Horvath has been a longtime voice on the major county housing shortage along with other economic concerns and has worked with a number of state and federal entities toward making the county a draw for developers. Horvath referenced other ongoing projects such as the Tom Cook and Anna Owens housing development in northern Owosso, which is connected to the state land bank, meaning the taxes captured from that property will go back to the state.

   “Now, having a local land bank means we are going to keep property taxes from these projects right here in Shiawassee County,” Horvath said. He added, “Any new project is going to generate property taxes. The idea is that properties that pass through a land bank become eligible to capture those taxes.”

   Horvath further explained how the property tax capture can be utilized to offset the gap between market and construction prices – an ongoing issue. He also mentioned two significant housing construction projects planned for Owosso and Durand. The far larger development will be happening in Durand, but both projects are centered toward offering housing in a county desperate to offer housing at every economic level. The Owosso project for about 120 apartment units is planned for acreage located west of the apartment complex on S. Chipman Street in the southern part of the city. The Durand project is slated for 190 acres of city-owned property off of Reed Road with the potential for 700 to 1,000 houses. Both properties might be able to utilize land bank tools.

   As part of the meeting, Shiawassee County Attorney Eric Morris detailed many upcoming items the new LBA will need to consider in coming months including determining a schedule, adopting bylaws, policies and procedures and more.

   The next meeting is planned for 9 a.m., Monday, April 4 in the Surbeck Building.

Historic First Meeting of the New Shiawassee County Land Bank Authority Held was last modified: March 15th, 2022 by Karen Elford