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What Do Homewood Residents Have to Gain or Lose from the New Land Bank Proposal?

Posted by C. Matthew Hawkins on January 30, 2014 at 9:05 AM

The new Land Bank proposal, now before City Council, is not the same proposal we met about in Homewood last summer. That earlier proposal included a community review board, which would set priorities for development and would evaluate potential buyers based on how closely their plans for development matched the priorities of the affected neighborhoods.

The new proposal seems to be based on the establishment of city-wide board, whose accountability will be at-large and will not be directly answerable to neighborhood concerns.

Councilman Burgess currently opposes the new plans for a Land Bank. He was the sponsor of the earlier Land Bank proposal that did not gain approval by city council last year. Are Councilman Burgess' objections to the new proposal based, in part, on the fact that it would weaken of his personal influence over the process, and therefore reduce his potential political clout?

Whatever the case, the new Land Bank proposal appears to shift decisions about land use further away from neighborhood residents, and those who are presumably accountable to them, and more in the direction of a centralized planning process downtown.

Human rights writer Mike Staresinic argues that “the demon is in the details,” and that any land bank proposal should include detailed plans for development after demolition. Staresinic says that most of what he has heard about the proposal focuses on removing “urban blight”, but there is not much discussion about what will follow the demolition of buildings.

That may be a problem with the current land bank proposal. The earlier proposal, the one that was presented in the Homewood library last summer but did not pass city council, addressed these concerns.


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