2013-01-19 / News

Houses coming down under new grant program

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE – It’s been a long, drawn out process, but derelict houses are finally coming down around Buckeye Lake Village as a result of the Moving Ohio Forward Grant program.

A total of seven Buckeye Lake Village homes will be demolished. Already down are:

• 326 Myers;
• 32 Lighthouse Lane; and
• 15 Grandstaff.
Scheduled to come down in
this round are:
• 405 Union;
• 11155 Hebron Rd.;
• 76 Elliott; and
• 86 Elliott.

In August, Buckeye Lake appropriated $50,000 toward the demolitions which will be reimbursed by the state program.

“We are working to get many more down and also go after additional funding,” said Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker.

Once the houses are down, however, the open lot does not automatically become the village’s property, for Buckeye Lake or any other municipality participating in the program, said Newark Code Official Joe Paul. The property owner retains ownership unless an agreement is reached with the property owner or the municipality purchases the open lot. “All we (Newark) are doing is administrating the grant,” he said. “There’s no provision to seize the properties. The only way to get the lawful authority is the owner’s permission.”

Matthew Lampke, Mortgage Foreclosure Counsel for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, explained that there are circumstances under which a municipality can gain control of the property following demolition. “It will depend on what authority is used by the political subdivision to conduct the demolition, “ he said. “County Land Banks have authority to obtain ownership of the property through the delinquent tax foreclosure process.”

He said cities have two different types of authority to conduct a demolition. The first is a nuisance abatement or condemnation procedure in which the city gains control of the property to conduct the demolition, but it does not obtain title to the property. The second option is to enforce a tax lien pursuant to R.C. 323.25. Lampke said the city could request the county treasurer enforce the tax lien. “Typically blighted structures also have delinquent taxes on their tax duplicate,” he said. “The political subdivision would then own the property for purposes of sale, renovation, or demolition.

“In my experience under this program, the County Land Banks obtain ownership of the properties they demolish, and the political subdivisions obtain control of the properties they demolish,” said Lampke.

Paul said the Moving Ohio Forward Grant didn’t require municipalities to seize properties in part to make demolitions attractive to the property owner; in many cases, the buildings are in such bad shape that the cleared lot is actually worth more money without the structure. Also, Paul said in Newark’s case, the city really has no need for the open lots, but the derelict structures are a public nuisance and safety hazard.

Buckeye Lake Director of Development Mike Cassidy said the village did seize control over a couple demolished properties on Stewart Avenue because the properties went to sheriff’s auction twice without sale, so the now empty lots were given to the village.

Currently, Cassidy said the LEADS program is trying purchase open lots in the village to construct roughly 30 new homes for qualified buyers. In order to take advantage of a grant, Cassidy said he believes LEADS must purchase at least 10 percent of the property needed to build the 30 homes by a late February deadline.

Previously, LEADS CEO Kenneth Kempton assured Buckeye Lake residents the proposed housing is not Section 8. “LEADS is working with (Baker) and (Cassidy) and we have spoken to members of the village council about existing vacant lots and tearing down abandoned structures to build single family homes,” he said. Kempton said these homes would be required to meet building standards that require minimum square footage, quality building materials and practical design to maximize energy efficiency.

Kempton said these homes would require occupants to agree to a rent to own contract that would make them responsible for the repair and upkeep of the property.

In other village news:

• Monday night, council members unanimously agreed to give the Greater Buckeye Lake Historical Society $3,000 this year to help with marketing expenses. Museum Director J-me Braig said the village has provided $2,000 a year for marketing for the last several years, but the museum’s responsibilities, and therefore expenses, have increased. “We are now the total management of the Cranberry Bog,” she said. Braig, said bog tours have since become very popular and museum needs to upgrade its marketing. She said tourism is a major source of income for the village.

Council member Kaye Hartman said she was impressed that the state trusted the museum to take over bog management. “We need to think of this as a great investment,” she said.

• Former council member Brenda Hileman raised the issue of a nine-year-old girl who donated items to the Buckeye Lake Fire Department’s Toys for Kids holiday toy drive, only to retrieve the donated toys from a trash can later. Hileman wondered if the toys were thrown away because the girl’s grandmother has criticized the department. “Is this the retribution and the hatred we can expect?” she asked.

Assistant Fire Chief Rod Riley said the toys were discarded because they weren’t properly packed per the required sanitary requirements. “We can’t do that and pass them along,” he said. Each donated toy must be in a sealed package, not loose.

Hileman wasn’t convinced and an argument ensued. “Anyone who says anything against the village will be retaliated against,” she said.

• Former council member Peggy Wells praised Council Clerk Valerie Hans for collecting on old traffic tickets and boosting revenue for the village police department. “I think it’s great that this is being done,” she said.

“Valerie is getting a ticket paid from 1988,” said Cassidy.

“Valerie is doing a great job with collections and I’m glad to see it happening,” said Baker.

• Wells said she received a copy of an email from an attorney in the State Auditor’s Office who disagrees with the village’s assessment that there is no conflict of interest with council member Arletta Ruton receiving “points” income as a volunteer firefighter. Council members are not permitted also to be village employees.

Attorney Brian Bibler wrote, “Regarding the Council Member that is being paid “Points” as a volunteer. Our legal department has reviewed the issue and they respectfully disagree with your legal opinion and do not view the payments to the volunteer firefighters as reimbursements, evidenced by the fact that receipts are not required. If the Village had an ordinance or resolution providing for these payments specifically as “reimbursements for expenses”, we’d be happy to review it before finalizing the report. Otherwise, the payments are viewed as providing the volunteer firemen/council members with a direct personal pecuniary benefit for their services.”

“There is a group considering a recall of Ms. Ruton,” said Wells to council members. “We’ll have to do it, I guess, if you won’t do your jobs.”

• Hayden recognized the Buckeye Lake Firefighter’s Association Toys for Kids Committee, which secured donations from the Buckeye Lake Yacht Club ($500), the Buckeye Lake Civic Association ($250), and $200 of Giant Eagle gift cards from an anonymous donor. According to a letter from the committee, whose members are Ruton, Melissa Miller, and Rene Leindecker, “We were able to help 12 families and provide Christmas for over 37 children here in the village. The anonymous donor who dropped off the $200 in Giant Eagle gift cards allowed us to also provide Christmas dinner as well for our families. This was our biggest toy drive yet.”

• Hayden said she and council member Clay Carroll discussed creating a Charter Review Commission to review the village’s charter and suggest any changes, if necessary. “I was talking with Annetta Macedonia and asked her if she’s be willing to chair this commission again,” said Hayden. “She said she would be happy to work on the charter review. I later received a phone call from Marie Ray and she said she thought she would be interested in being a member of the Charter Review Commission. Marie worked on the Cranberry Code of Regulations several years ago. Annetta, Marie, and one other person from Cranberry Bay established the entire Code of regulations for Cranberry Bay. I told Marie I was happy she was interested. Unless there is some objection to Annetta and Marie, we have two people on board and need three more.”

Wells said she would like to serve on the commission, adding that once again Hayden was making decisions herself (telling Macedonia and Ray that they were on the commission) that should be made by all council members. Hayden didn’t accept Wells’ offer to serve on commission, saying it would be up to council members. Also, Wells objected to Hayden strictly enforcing the three-minute limit on comments on her while giving others more leeway.

“You’re a disappointment as a leader on this council and you’ve been a bully when people don’t agree with you,” she said. “If you won’t be civil to me, I can give it back.”

• Hayden said she received a call about deer hunting on Hunt’s Landing property where it’s illegal to hunt. “Our officers will now be watching the area more closely as hunting isn’t allowed within the village limits. If anyone sees hunters on the Hunt’s Landing property, you should report them to our police department.”

• Hartman said the Feed The Dream food drive, which takes place Monday, Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Day, at Ross’ Granville Market benefits local food pantries, including Buckeye Lake’s and she encouraged people to donate. “We need to get people out there,” she said. The benefit takes place from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The project’s goal is to collect of two tons of food and $5,000 in donations in one day.

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