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County Executive Bellone, Legislators Gregory and Cilmi Applaud State Approval to Create First Land Bank in Suffolk to Remediate Brownfields

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Hauppauge, NY (February 22, 2013) – Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Majority Leader DuWayne Gregory (D – Amityville) and 10th District Legislator Tom Cilmi (R – Bay Shore)  today applauded  state approval of Suffolk’s application to create a Suffolk County Land Bank.  Once implemented, the land bank will afford Suffolk County a unique opportunity to remediate and return to the tax rolls contaminated brownfield properties.

The New York State Empire State Development Corporation has approved the County’s application to establish the Suffolk County Land Bank Corporation, a not-for-profit entity that will give the County discretion to acquire, dispose of at auction or redevelop tax foreclosed properties, including brownfield sites previously unsuitable for acquisition.  According to the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning, there are 133 brownfield sites located in eight of Suffolk’s ten towns that may be eligible for remediation through the land bank.  The properties represent a total of 265.9 acres and more than $28 million in cumulative uncollected tax revenue.  All ten towns in Suffolk supported of the land bank application.  For a table of brownfield properties by town, see below.

“All across Suffolk County, communities have been struggling to cope with abandoned, tax-delinquent and contaminated properties that blight neighborhoods and business districts,” said County Executive Bellone. “Now, the Suffolk County Land Bank will give us a mechanism to put many of these brownfield properties in the hands of the private sector to be remediated and put to good use once again. The land bank will make a tangible difference for these communities, enhancing the environment, bolstering the local economy and improving quality of life.” 

 “Getting authorization to establish this land bank is a huge step forward for our communities and our environment,” said Legislative Majority Leader Gregory, who authored the original legislation directing the County to pursue the establishment of a Land Bank as a way to revive blighted communities. “Once up and running, I believe it will become the most effective tool the County has ever had to make tainted properties habitable and impoverished communities economically viable.” 

“The approval of the County’s Land Bank application is a win for the taxpayers, allowing us to get tax-delinquent properties back on the tax rolls while recovering a portion of back taxes; a win for the environment as it will foster the cleanup of environmentally contaminated properties; and a win for communities as we turn blighted properties into productive parcels,” said Legislator Cilmi. “This has long been a priority of mine and I am thrilled that an issue that has been so vexing for so long is finally being addressed.”

Bellone developed the land bank concept in consultation with Legislators Gregory and Cilmi during 2012.  The Land Bank also establishes a Board of Directors of the corporation that includes representation from the County Executive’s Office, the Legislature, town government and the environmental community.  The first brown field properties will be transferred from the County to the land bank corporation during the third quarter of this year.

Table 1: Geographic Distribution of Potential Redevelopment Sites for the Suffolk County Land Bank Corporation

Town*

Number of Parcels

Acres

Babylon

39

14.15

Brookhaven

33

178

Huntington

4

3.3

Islip

39

32.3

Riverhead

2

0.98

Smithtown

12

30.89

Southampton

3

5.51

Southold

1

0.3

Total

133 parcels

265.9 acres

* Please note that sites identified in incorporate villages are included within each town and that the Towns of East Hampton and Shelter Island currently do not have any sites identified.

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