Friday, January 31, 2020

Land bank takes over Columbia house damaged by fire


EMILY JONES | LNP Correspondent

- When: Council meeting, Jan. 28.

- What happened: Council voted unanimously for the Lancaster County Land Bank to acquire property at 521 Locust St.

- Background: The Lancaster County Land Bank deals with real estate problems such as abandoned, blighted or tax-delinquent properties. If the municipality and school district agree to turn over the property to the land bank, the property will be taken off the tax rolls while it is rehabilitated for sale.

- Why it matters: 521 Locust St. was recently damaged in a fire. Council reported the owner has no intention to restore the damage, and the property is tax delinquent. The property, currently worth an estimated $36,600, is in a residential area between Route 462 and North Sixth Street, near the Columbia Public Library and Park Elementary School. Council President Heather Zink and Mayor Leo S. Lutz speculated that when rehabilitated, the property could be sold for at least twice its current value, generating property tax revenue for the borough. The Columbia school board also approved the acquisition of the property by the land bank.

- Quotable: "If we don't take it, it's just going to sit there, because the owner has indicated that they are basically going to walk away. They want nothing to do with the property," Zink said.

- Termination of contract: Council voted to renegotiate with a human resources consultant who terminated her contract with the borough in a letter dated Jan. 21. The original contract, awarded last year to consultant Kathy McCool, was the subject of a Sunshine Act complaint made against the borough by Zink, who was then running for her current seat. Zink had accused council of awarding McCool the contract without discussion in a public meeting. Zink said after the Jan. 28 meeting McCool's termination was unrelated to last year's Sunshine complaint. Instead it had to do with a misunderstanding on the part of council regarding the amount of work McCool still needed to complete.

- Columbia Crossing: Mark Platts, the president of Susquehanna National Heritage Area, which manages Columbia Crossing River Trails Center, announced the center will receive a new $10,000 grant from the National Park Service.

https://lancasteronline.com/news/regional/land-bank-takes-over-columbia-house-damaged-by-fire/article_8df63086-43a4-11ea-8096-3b7e89458694.html 

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