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Springfield land bank bill makes progress in both chambers


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Language allowing Springfield to establish a land bank trust to manage property is making its way through the legislature as session draws to a close. 

HB 563, sponsored by Rep. Bill Owen, would establish a land bank in Springfield for the management, sale, and transfer of real estate. The bill passed through a Senate committee this week and awaits further action in the upper chamber. Owen stressed that the program would extend beyond the concept of a conventional bank, instead creating an agency to manage local land. 

“You have dilapidated property; we get that into the land bank by whatever means, and the land bank figures out how to repurpose it,” Owen told The Missouri Times. “Is it so bad that we just need to tear it down and sell the land, or do we identify a good contractor who can come in and fix it up, or does the land bank improve it first and sell it? It’s a mechanism to turn some of these properties around to help improve the neighborhoods.”

Owen said past legislation enabled St. Louis, Kansas City, and St. Joseph to enact their own land banks, the only three cities able to do so thus far. 

His language was also included in a Senate substitute for Sen. Sandy Crawford’s SB 27 which makes various changes to regulations on communities, from courthouses and county zoning to taxes and local officials. The bill passed the House Fiscal Review Committee Friday morning and awaits floor action in the lower chamber. 

“The senator called me over to talk to me about its inclusion as part of a committee substitute — she’s good to include others and make sure things are alright with us,” he said. “Next week, I’d say we’ve got at least a decent shot that one of these gets across the finish line.”