New Brownfield Grant coming


The Brownfield and Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Grant programs were discussed at the monthly meeting of the Highland County Land Reutilization Corporation (land bank) alongside the introduction of the new land bank coordinator Jason Johansen.

Terry Britton, president of the Highland County Board of Commissioners, said a Brownfield Grant would be coming back soon and that the land bank needs to be ahead of the game when that happens. He said that just like the last round, this new one would be able to work with both commercial and residential properties.

Johansen said that Matt Wagner, a Tetra Tech certified professional working with the land bank, said to look at some bigger Brownfield projects, such as the long-neglected Gross-Feibel building in Hillsboro and a tank at the former Buford school site.

“This is probably the last time this Brownfield money is gonna come through for the foreseeable future,” Todd Book, the land bank’s legal counsel, said. “So, if there are those three or four projects that you really wanna get cleaned up, and I know in a certain county like Pike County they’ve been wanting to tear down the Beaver school property that’s been a problem for them forever and they’re excited about using the funds to do that.”

For other Brownfield updates, Johansen said that with Wagner not in attendance, he would give them in his stead. Johansen said that at the Rocky Fork Truck Stop, the monitoring wells are now being placed in between the contaminated soil and any type of water supply.

Concerning the Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Grant, Johansen said the first quarter January through March report was finished by Mackenzie Edison, the previous land bank coordinator. He also said there was no work finished in Quarter Two, meaning there would be no report.

He said there also wouldn’t be a final report yet because there is $77,895 left in funding from the first round that wasn’t allocated, which the land bank plans to use for the upcoming round in the fall.

In other news, Britton formally introduced Johansen. He said that Johansen’s first day in the position was July 17 and that it took them a while to find out who was going to get the position, but Johansen “rose” to the top. Britton also said that there was no meeting last month because they wanted to let Johansen “get his feet wet” in terms of the land bank’s operation.

Johansen also gave updates on other miscellaneous properties:

* 453 E. Main St., 229 E. South St. and 622 S. East St., all in Hillsboro, have been completely finished and are planned to be put out for bid soon. A motion was approved by the land bank to put these properties out for bid, with 453 E. Main St. at a minimum bid of $12,000, 229 E. South St. for $12,000 and 622 S. East St. for $10,000. The land bank approved a 30-day time limit to make bids, with the bids planned to be opened on Oct. 13, 2023.

* For 9965 U.S. 62 in Leesburg/Samantha, the property should be in the land bank’s possession.

* The foreclosure at 6747 Heathermoor Trail in the Rocky Fork Lake area was finished and the deed is in the land bank’s possession.

* Enchanted Hills was still in the process of being foreclosed.

* The Old Water Tower property in Leesburg was formally transferred to AK Thompson Property Management following the property being transferred to the land bank from Leesburg.

The land bank approved a field maintenance bid package that would bid out the lawn care and mowing at three properties in Hillsboro.

Richard Counter, Highland County property owner, was in attendance to inquire about what was being done about parcels on Taylor Street. Following some research, Counter said that the owner has been deceased for 15 years and that the taxes are back due for 10 to 15 years. He said the property is a “dump” with constant dumping from the house, debris and rubber tires, with the pond there full of tires.

Counter said he got a quote for the cleanup at the property for $26,000, which would include the tires. But he also didn’t know what else might be on the property. He said he was interested in the property but only because he has a property adjacent to it.

Book said that he would look to talk to the prosecutor’s office about the property for a priority foreclosure, but that foreclosures are still a process and need to be published in the newspaper.

The next meeting of the land bank is scheduled to be on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, at 9 a.m.

Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.

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