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Program to put public land back into private ownership

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 6:27 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Property owners near 700 available pieces of land in Rockford and across the region can adopt it at no cost with help from the Adjacent Property Adoption Program and the Region 1 Planning Council.

These slivers of land struggled to sell in the hands of Winnebago County trustees, but now. organizers believe reducing vacant inventory can make these properties useful.

“We get calls about the length of the grass and the weeds on those properties and it’s a burden on everyone. So this is a good way of motivation. To get those properties in the hands of the right people,” says Winnebago County Chairman Joe Chiarelli.

“The public maintenance of them can get costly getting them to an adjacent property owner will allow them to do the maintenance on the properties and not the public,” says R1 Land Bank Coordinator Eric Setter.

Adjacent property owners can apply for a spot online. Organizers say this won’t be a monumental addition but it will increase the value of their property.

“A lot of the parcels may be too small to be buildable, but once you have joined it to an adjacent property owner, it could be anything within the zoning ordinance of that municipality would be up for that parcel,” says Setter.

Around 75 letters were sent last week to qualified owners to notify them of this opportunity... Almost 30 percent express interest in this incentive. Chiarelli says less publicly owned vacated properties can attract more people to the region.

“The less amount of these properties we have around our county, the better visually we are when somebody’s coming into our county,” says Chiarelli.

Those interested in a property next to theirs, including businesses, can apply online until Wednesday, July 6.

Organizers say if not enough of these vacant lots are adopted, taxpayers would pay for those properties like they’ve done in the past.

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