Rezone it and they will come.

Members of the New Castle City Council passed a pair of ordinances on second and third readings Monday night that clears the way for badly needed home construction here. The ordinances amends zoning districts for North Main/Garner streets as well as portion of S. 14th Street.

Council members also appointed committee members for the city’s “land bank” – a new group that could result in improved residential properties for years to come.

Here’s a recap.

North Main and Garner

Rezoning of approximately 7.93 acres near the intersection of North Main and Garner streets from general industrial to residential is now complete.

The action enables Bruce and Brenda Aaron along with Jeff and Kathy Smiley to proceed with plans to build up to six single-family homes on the land. The homes would be available to anyone at market-based prices.

No one spoke against the plan during a public hearing Monday.

South 14th street

Another home-sweet-new-home move came with Council’s approval of an ordinance reclassifying approximately .18 acres containing a residential structure from its current C-1 commercial status to R-3, which is single, two and multi-family residential zoning.

The request came from Doyle and Mona Wilson, who want to transform a property at 115 S. 14th Street.

Land bank

The land bank will consist of a nine-member board with three appointed by the mayor, three by the City Council and one by the County Treasurer – all of whom must be city residents. Two additional members with no city residence requirements will be appointed by the seven directors who live in the city.

Monday night, Council President Rex Peckinpaugh submitted three names – Dennis Hamilton, Brad Crowe Jr. and Martin Shields. They were unanimously approved by the council.

“I think these are three really good representatives to have,” Peckinpaugh said.

City Attorney Joel Harvey said he has sent a letter to other groups who have members to appoint on the Land Bank.

All too often, neglected properties go up for tax sale and out-of-state buyers who have never set foot in New Castle buy them without really seeing what they’re getting. And all too often, when they find out, they abandon them all over again, sending the property back to yet another tax sale.

Approved in 2019, the Land Bank will enable the city to bid on properties at tax sales and perhaps prevent out-of-state people from acquiring them. The city could then rehabilitate them and perhaps get them back on the tax rolls.

© Copyright 2020, The Courier-Times, New Castle, IN.