The City of Commerce is set to create a land bank for the town, a move that could help upgrade rundown and dilapidated property in the city.

During a discussion about the land bank at the Sept. 7 Commerce City Council meeting, city manager James Wascher said such a program could "be a useful tool for us."

Land banks acquire rundown properties, sometimes through foreclosures, condemnations or tax sales, then clean them up or aggregate several parcels so that the property can be resold to private investors for an approved use. 

Redevelopment is the main goal, said city planner Jordan Shoemaker.

Commerce has been working with Jackson County for two years on the project, Wascher said. He noted that it would require some seed funding to get the programs up and going.

The city land bank would be overseen by a five-member board with one of those from the county and four from the city. A city board of education representative would also be invited as an advisory members.

Georgia has 23 city/county land banks. Northeast Georgia has two, one in Gainesville/Hall County and one in Athens/Clarke County.

If approved by the Commerce council, it would be one of the smallest towns to create a land bank in the state.

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