Morgan County Officially Joins Two Rivers Land Bank

By Jeremy Coumbes on September 26, 2022 at 3:38pm

The Morgan County Commissioners officially approved an intergovernmental agreement to join the Two Rivers Land Bank this morning. Morgan County was the last of four municipalities to join the land bank, with Jacksonville, Quincy, and Adams County having already joined.

Chairman Bard Zeller says the county wants to be a good partner with the City of Jacksonville as well as give the county the opportunity to assist smaller communities in the area with vacant and abandoned properties.

Brian Nyberg the city planner has been very instrumental in getting the county to sign this intergovernmental agreement. With that comes a small yearly fee for administration of the land bank. It will also get us in line for some possible grants that could help the county and some of our smaller municipalities within the county.

In order to get any large work done there would have to be a contribution to this fund so we would have a balance in our land bank account so to speak. Then we would be able to use that for any demolition or any cleaning up of some properties. Because the main goal of this of course is to clean up vacant or abandoned properties to get them cleaned up, have a fund for that, and then to get them back on the tax rolls.”

County Commissioners Ginny Fanning was appointed as the county’s official representative on the Two Rivers board of directors this morning.

Fanning has served as the land bank’s secretary since its inception and says working with the land bank has been very much a learning experience for her during the process of getting it established.

I have been very impressed with the process and what they have worked up as far as how each entity is going to work together but yet separately. It’s a lot of help from the Illinois Housing Development Agency. So I think it’s really a strong move for us and other communities are wanting to get involved. So I think once we get our ducks in a row and our feet on the ground then we will be ready to let some others join in and who knows how many properties we would be able to improve.”

Community Development Director for the city of Jacksonville, Brian Nyberg was in attendance at the meeting. Nyberg has been the main proponent of both the city and county becoming involved with the land bank since he took over as Community Development Director.

Nyberg says several other municipalities have expressed interest in joining the land bank, however, he’s not exactly sure when the land bank will be expanded. He says though, allowing other entities into the land bank is the long-term goal.

What we want to do is to fill in the voids between Jacksonville and Quincy in Adams County. There is a land bank on the eastern side of the state and of course on the northern part, but this will be the southwestern corridor of the state.”

Morgan County will pay an annual fee for membership in the land bank of approximately $7,800.00 which is based on population size and goes toward clerical and other operating expenses.

Nyberg suggested to the Commissioners during the meeting that ARPA funds can be used to help seed the land bank. Last week the City of Jacksonville put $200,000.00 in ARPA funds into the land bank which will help clear up legalities such as liens and foreclosures on abandoned properties so they can be cleared and sold.

He says profits earned from the sale of these properties goes back into the land bank to help sustain the effort to clean up abandoned properties and get them back into productive use.