Land bank could revive blighted areas in the Rockford region

WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) - Regional leaders could team up in an effort to fight the blight throughout the Rockford region.

"We have blighted properties and we need to take care of it and the land bank is the first good step,” said Jean Crosby, Winnebago County Board Member.

Crosby, along with many other Winnebago County board members anticipate Wednesday night’s meeting where they will take a closer look at an agreement with the leadership of Rockford, Belvidere, and Boone county to establish the northern Illinois land bank. Boone and Belvidere already agreed to it.

"Land Banks deal with properties that are distressed and abandoned and if we can get them back on the rent rolls or the tax rolls I should say. Then that's a good thing," Crosby said.

Executive Director of the Regional Planning Council Michael Dunn Jr. has worked on this proposal for many months and feels this land bank could be the tool the Rockford region needs to grow.

"What we have in our community is too many properties that are not in private sector hands that are not paying taxes. What a land bank does is a competitive differential to the current status quo is to quickly go in and get these properties ready to get into a private owner hands in a faster way in a targeted way and get it paying taxes," Dunn said.

"We need to get them back on the tax rolls. That's good for the county that's good for the city. It's good for Belvidere it's good for Boone county and if things go well we could even reach over to Freeport in Stephenson and really grow it," Crosby said.

The city of Rockford and the Winnebago County Board could vote Wednesday night.