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Land Bank law amended, counties can now buy vacant properties

A new state law amends New York's land bank legislation introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration in 2011. Land banks are mechanisms for acquiring or demolishing abandoned properties that are delinquent on their taxes. The bill removes previous barriers that restricted counties and municipalities from purchasing properties without judicial authorization, allowing them to bid at public sales. Republican state Sen. Mark Grisanti sponsored the legislation.

"What we did is change the language to open it up on a broader spectrum so that the county itself can pursue properties that are vacant, that are also in foreclosure still, and try to purchase those properties to get them back on the market for tax purposes and to get people living in the property to help bring some sort of community stability to an area," said Grisanti.

He says the amended bill allows for counties to increase the amount of properties they can purchase.

"We have a continuing problem with these vacant homes," Grisanti said. "The amount of homes that are vacant or that are having this problem is tens of thousands. So this basically allows the counties and the municipalities to put them back on the tax rolls and be occupied by people, and they'll be properly maintained."

Grisanti says when properties are maintained, criminal activity will be reduced. The state has authorized land banks in Erie County, Chautauqua County, Rochester and Syracuse.

Ashley is a Buffalo native, and is in her second stint as reporter at WBFO. During her first tenure at the station, Ashley covered a variety of issues in the western New York region and earned an Associated Press award for team coverage on “Same Sex Marriage in New York.” Ashley has also worked as an anchor/reporter at WBEN in Buffalo and WBTA in Batavia.