The Press Newspaper
The wrecking ball is still on hold as officials work feverishly to get paperwork in order for a house demolition grant given to Ottawa County this summer.
“It’s going a little slower than I had hoped, ” said Stephanie Lowe, the director of the Ottawa County Housing Board, on Monday morning, “but it is progressing.”
Lowe is administering the $222,000 Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant issued to the county through the office of Attorney General Mike DeWine.
The funds are Ottawa County’s allocation from a suit settled by the attorney general and five mortgage lenders, Todd Bickley, the former director of Ottawa Regional Planning Commission, explained in late summer. The Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant stems from a state and federal settlement with the nation’s five largest mortgage services over foreclosure abuses, fraud and mortgage rates.
Lowe’s original plan involved undertaking two demolitions a month starting in August. Then, she eyed October but again had to push back the timeline. November is looking to be the magic month, she said.
All together, Lowe expects to raze 20 blighted or abandoned homes before December 2013, the end of the grant period. That is based on an estimate of around $10,000 to raze a single home, she said.
The startup process has been delayed by a few unexpected glitches, according to Lowe.
As part of the application, Bickley had asked officials from townships, cities and villages across the county to identify properties in need of removal. Forty-five properties in all were identified within Allen, Bay, Catawba, Erie and Portage townships, the village of Rocky Ridge and Oak Harbor and the city of Port Clinton.
Some of those entities already have a number of regulations in place regarding abandoned or eyesore properties, Lowe explained. So, they already had a head start on the process and had identified problem properties. In one case, a church owns a property and wants help and in another the City of Port Clinton owns the land in the same situation, which makes things a lot easier, Lowe added.
The others that do not have such a local ordinance have required a little more footwork to get the paperwork in place for demolition approval.
“We have to verify these properties. If we know who the owners are, we have to have them sign waivers of yes or no. Otherwise, we have to do title searches. If they have liens, we have to send out consent forms to those people. And once we have those back we can get to work. We have had five or six title searches come back so far.”
Appraisals are currently under way at three properties and the housing board is in the final stages for interviewing contractors, she said.
Demolition work is expected to take place first at sites in Oak Harbor, Bay Township, Harris Township and Portage Township.
“The commissioners’ goal is to spread the grant across the county,” Lowe explained. “They don’t want any one place to monopolize the money.”