The Village of Greenfield administration is going after nuisance properties, hoping to send a message to property owners not in compliance with village ordinances and requests to clean up their properties.
Law director Brian Zets said in his monthly report to council that the village is looking at “very specific properties” and will take action soon.
City Manager Todd Wilkin said there are six to 10 properties that have been condemned for some time, and the time frame for property owners to act has expired. He said the village intends to file complaints on these properties, and move forward with cleaning them up.
Wilkin recommended council participate in a receivership program with a CIC (Community Improvement Corporation) in ridding the community of the condemned houses.
When council member Chris Borreson asked about how the village typically handles the matter of nuisance properties — through letters giving the homeowners a set period of time and then assessing fines onto the homeowner’s property taxes if noncompliance continues — Wilkin said municipalities typically don’t ever recoup those dollars. He said it can “burden our tax dollars” as the chances of collecting the additional taxes are so low, and when a property is sold at auction, the village just “gets what it gets” and may or may not recover the costs it took to demolish the condemned home on a property.
But, when properties go through receivership processed through a CIC, Wilkin said a community has a better chance of recouping its money because a CIC can acquire a loan and sell the property at market value, whereas the village can only sell through auction.
Whether through receivership or traditional methods, Borreson said things needed to move quickly because some of the properties have been negatively impacting the community for some time. An example Borreson provided was one house that has sat untouched since it burned a couple years ago.
“We don’t want to hesitate,” Wilkin said. “We want to hit this hard,” adding that he hoped the action by the village would be a message to other homeowners that the administration is serious about cleaning up Greenfield.
Wilkin said he would proceed in whatever manner council wished.
On a related matter, Greenfield has contracted with the Ross County Building Department for its commercial and residential building for a number of years. Wilkin reported he was recently informed that the Ross County Commissioners have decided to terminate those contracts. Wilkin said he has yet to receive that in writing, which should contain the reason behind the commissioners’ decision. He added, though, that a reason suggested was that the Ross County department was taking over the Chillicothe Building Department, which doubled the former’s workload.
Wilkin suggested to council that Greenfield create its own commercial and residential building departments, something he said the village has done in the past, and then put out for bid a certified building official (CBO). He said council would need to act on the matter via legislation.
With the way things work now, prospective builders go to Chillicothe for the needed permits. That leaves the village “no opportunity for zoning,” he said.
He said a building department would not be a “big money maker” at all. The village would examine plans, determine if they are conforming and what permits need issued, collect the money for permits, and pay that money to the third party CBO with a 1- or 2-percent fee to the state.
“It’s really just a pass-through so we can control what is being built,” he said.
The city manager said he has not learned of a final date on which the contracts would terminate, but he will ask for a date of Sept. 1 to give the village time to decide how to proceed. Anything that is already in the works, Wilkin said, the Ross County Building Department will see through to completion, including the nuisance properties, all of which have letters condemning them signed by an inspector with the department.
In other business, Wilkin said the village has been using its vacuum truck and camera equipment to evaluate every street and storm and sewer line. The efforts to investigate infrastructure and become aware of any issues are part of the administration working on a five-year capital improvement program that Wilkin said he hopes to present to council toward the end of the year.
On a related note, Wilkin provided wastewater treatment plant numbers from the year, which show that there are, indeed, issues.
In June alone, he said, the plant pumped an average of 307,000 gallons a day totaling around 9.2 million gallons for the month, yet it treated 28.5 million gallons, an average of 950,000 gallons a day.
Those 648,000 extra gallons per day being treated are coming from somewhere, he said. In an effort to find out the “inflow and infiltration” issues in the system, seven micro monitors were placed on the northwest part of the village at the beginning of May and were just removed last week. He said a report is expected soon on the findings and he is hopeful that the issues can be identified so that “we can tackle the infrastructure needs.”
On another matter, Wilkin said that following the conclusion of the ball season at Mitchell Park, volunteers will be tearing down the dugouts and building new ones that will also include storage space. He said all materials for the project have been donated.
The city manager during his report reminded residents that a yard waste site will be open again on July 27 from noon to 4 p.m. and July 28 from 8 a.m. to noon. It will be at Greenfield’s wastewater treatment facility located at 187 Lost Bridge Rd. The service is free to all residents living within the village.
Greenfield Village Council meets in regular session the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers on the first floor of the City Building.
Angela Shepherd is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.