The Chemung County legislature takes a new step towards revitalizing downtown Elmira neighborhoods.

The county legislature passed a resolution last night to get one step closer to making land banks a reality in the Southern Tier.

The zombie properties scattered throughout  Elmira communities are an issue the county hopes to clean-up with the help of the state, through land-banks. Land banks are government entities focused on converting vacant, abandoned and tax delinquent properties into productive spaces,

Deputy County Executive, Mike Krusen, said land banks will provide a chance for the area to take control of the direction zombie properties go in. 

“It provides us in opportunity to pull those properties out of foreclosure property and put them into the land Bank it allows us to manage them strategically and develop them consistent with what our neighborhood plans are,” said Krusen.

Elmira Resident, Jeffrey Squires said he supports the county’s effort and feels landlords need to be held more accountable for the conditions of their properties. 

“I’ve noticed that a lot of people are moving out and a lot of landlords just aren’t taking care of their properties, grass is not mowed, windows being broken out and not replaced, doors falling off,” said Squires. 

Stacy Niemczyk rents on West Gray Street and said deteriorating homes like the one across from where she lives, are damaging an area she believes has so much potential.

“Elmira could be a lot bigger and a lot better than it is however however unfortunately when you’ve got properties like this,” said Niemczyk. “There’s nothing adding value to the neighborhood there’s nothing bringing people in. It’s either you get out, or you put up with it.”

Unlike the many homes left behind, county reps said this revitalization won’t be abandoned.

“You’d have to do this for many many years to come and I think this is one more tool that we’ve got in our toolbox to do that we need to do to change this community and have the community start feeling better about itself,” said Krusen. 

County officials said the state could take a few months to approve the application and if accepted, the land banks could be operational before the end of the 2016 year.

Homes have already been pulled from last year’s auction process and set aside.

According to Chemung County Treasurer, Joseph Sartori, the following properties were pulled from the auction for inclusion in the proposed land bank:

850 Dickinson St

405 Perry St.

313 W. Gray St

403 W. Gray St

406 W Gray St

118-122 Lake St

726 Lake St.

For a list of questions and answers surrounding land banks, click here