Missouri News: St. Joseph Land Bank Bill Receives Final Approval

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) – Legislation to create a land bank agency in St. Joseph has cleared the General Assembly, moving the city closer to addressing abandoned buildings and blighted neighborhoods.  House Bill 821, with substitute language offered by State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, passed the Senate unanimously during a late-night session this week and received final approval in the House the following day.  This bill was a top legislative priority for the City of St. Joseph and the St. Joseph Area Chamber of Commerce.

“This is something that St. Joseph has been trying to pass for several years, and it will be very important to the revitalization of our older neighborhoods,” said Patt Lilly, president and CEO of the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce.  Bill McMurray, mayor of St. Joseph added, “We are delighted the Land Bank bill passed the Senate. It’s going to be a tremendous help to us with the number of properties that we certainly need to get control of.  This will enable the city to take a huge step into the future and deal with some of these property problems that have been plaguing our city of decades.”

The St. Joseph Land Bank agency is modeled after similar non-profit redevelopment organizations in Kansas City and St. Louis.  The land bank will acquire derelict and abandoned properties through tax auctions or donations and return them to productivity.  Vacant buildings and empty lots could either be put to public use or sold to individuals or groups that would renovate or develop the properties.

“Land banks are a proven approach for the rehabilitation of neglected urban areas,” Sen. Luetkemeyer said.  “The St. Joseph community is committed to addressing areas of blight and the land bank will encourage infusions of capital and a new spirit of enterprise to this proud, historic community.”

The measure now heads to the governor for his signature.