Multiple updates were given for various programs at the monthly meeting of the Highland County Land Reutilization Corporation (land bank).
Concerning the Brownfield Remediation Grant Program, Matt Wagner, a certified professional from Tetra Tech, said the “great news” was that everything he’d been saying the past few meetings was true. He said that meant Highland County would be getting $1 million this year as well as another $1 million next year just for Brownfield projects.
Wagner said that for each edition, the county could spend over that amount, but it would need to have a match alongside the project. He also said another requirement would be that any project coming from Highland County has to go through the land bank.
He said the grant application would officially open on Dec. 5, 2023.
Wagner said that the land bank could try and do similarly to what it did in the last round by using this round for assessment work and then next year’s round for the actual remediation work. He said one of the reasons for this is the Brownfield projects all have a requirement to have a first phase finished before the project can be started.
A few possibilities mentioned include the old Buford School, Emerson Electric and the old gas station oil shop on East Main Street in Hillsboro.
Additionally, Wagner said the good news on Rocky Fork Truck Stop is that all the soil has been cleaned up and they are working on the groundwater exceedances. He said they will next have the Phase Two work, which includes water modeling and spot injections that would physically treat the water. However, he also said the property is at a point where it should not impede development.
Regarding the Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Grant Program, the land bank approved 13 more possible properties that the land bank might use for the next round of funding.
The 13 new properties approved for that process are as follows: 205 S. Broadway St. in Lynchburg, 213 Broadway St. in Lynchburg, 216 Broadway St. in Lynchburg, 220 S. Broadway St. in Lynchburg, Main St. (Parcel No. 11-08-404-042.00) in Lynchburg, 114 Main St. (Parcel No. 11-08-404-043.00) in Lynchburg, 2871 Sharpsville Rd. in Lynchburg, 4506 Sharpsville Rd. in Hillsboro, 5700 Dawson Rd. (structure one) in Lynchburg, 5700 Dawson Rd. (structure two) in Lynchburg, 110 E. South St. in Hillsboro, 112 W. Collins Ave. in Hillsboro and 204 E. Jefferson St. in Greenfield.
Jason Johansen, land bank coordinator, said the application for properties opened on Oct. 31, for the new round of funding. He also said the land bank could remove or add new projects until April 1, 2024, with all work required to be finished by May 1, 2025.
Johansen also gave updates on the following properties:
* For 9955 U.S. Route 62, Leesburg, Johansen said they received a verification of blight letter from the Highland County North Joint Fire Department, meaning the property can be torn down.
* Concerning 6747 and 6749 Heather Moor Trail in Hillsboro, Johansen said he believes the squatter is finally out of the location and the land bank can move forward.
Regarding 453 E. Main St., 229 E. South St. and 622 S. East St., all in Hillsboro, Johansen said there has been a little bit of interest in them. However, he also said that he told the interested buyers to make an offer at the meeting and nobody showed up. Lauren Walker, the city’s representative on the land bank, talked about possibly sending them to the USDA’s rural development office.
* Johansen said the Enchanted Hills Community Association is still in the expedited foreclosure process.
* He said that the two property owners on either side of 11410 Cathys Court are interested in possibly splitting that parcel down the middle, but sizable mortgage liens on it are stopping that.
In other news, the land bank approved the lawn care service bids of Dan Butcher for $160 apiece at 453 E. Main St., 229 E. South St. and 622 S. East St., all in Hillsboro.
Todd Book, the land bank’s legal counsel, said that on the Taylor Street properties in Greenfield, the land bank has started the process of getting the Highland County Health Department involved.
The next meeting of the land bank is scheduled to be on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023, at 9 a.m. due to a scheduling conflict in October.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.