Combating nuisance properties has been an ongoing effort with the Greenfield administration, and Tuesday’s village council meeting brought news of progress.
Public Service Director Gary Lewis reported a number of properties that the village had been involved with throughout the summer. He presented to council before and after photos in many of the cases from properties across the village, all of them deemed a nuisance for reasons including trash, tall grass, neglect, structural concerns, being burned-out, and more.
All the property owners received 10-day notices at some point from the village.
According to Lewis, some homeowners readily complied and cleaned up their properties, and when other property owners did not act within the allotted 10-day period, the village stepped in to remedy the problem properties with the owners becoming responsible for the cost.
“We are working diligently” to clean up the village, Lewis said.
City Manager Todd Wilkin, in his report to council, spoke of a property on North Fourth Street that sat vacant for many years after a fire and is currently being remodeled by a new owner. It was one of the initial six blighted properties that the village took legal action against within the last year.
On a related matter, Wilkin planned to attend the Ohio Land Bank Conference in Cincinnati this week. He said he is interested in learning how the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) could tap into land bank dollars available through the state that would allow Greenfield to tear down blighted homes throughout the village.
The CIC has the ability to acquire, sell and fix-up properties — things that are beyond the village itself to do. Previously, Wilkin spoke of the CIC as having the authority “to change our community,” calling it a “positive change agent we need” for Greenfield.
The CIC is looking to acquire nuisance properties through the quit claim process, he said, and he has been communicating with a local attorney about associated costs involved in the process.
The city manager also suggested to council it could consider introducing aggressive legislation that could help facilitate removing blighted properties in need of being demolished with the financial responsibility falling to the homeowner. He offered a couple ideas on the matter, ultimately asking council to consider that step.
Council chair Phil Clyburn said after the meeting he is excited about getting the nuisance properties taken care of, though it is a slow process.
“We aren’t used to doing this,” he said of the persistent effort of the village, and it is taking time to learn how the process works.
In other business, the city manager reported that on Tuesday the village received a call regarding an Ohio State Resource grant that was applied for in August.
The village is in the running, Wilkin said. The grant, if awarded, would offer professional insight and guidance into the community and how to better implement the village’s economic development plan. It would also create a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis for Greenfield.
The Mill Street project, Wilkin reported, is set to begin in the next couple weeks. He advised that soon there will be signage, cones and detours in the area as the construction gets underway. The project is to include water and sewer infrastructure improvements, new sidewalks, curbs, gutters, and create an entrance to the industrial park at the end of Mill Street.
In the continuing quest to improve Greenfield’s rail spur, and in the wake of the village applying for hundreds of thousands in grant funds to make needed repairs and improvements, village and local administrators met with state and federal officials and representatives at Candle-lite this week, one of the three industries served by Greenfield’s rail line. All were taken on a tour of the facility. Those present included Tim Thompson, co-chair of the federal arm of the Appalachian Regional Commission; John Carey of the governor’s Office of Appalachia; a representative of Rep. Brad Wenstrup’s office; a representative of the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission; and Highland County Commissioner Jeff Duncan.
Upcoming events reported by Wilkin included the village’s fall clean-up day, which is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon; and Adient will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Oct. 5.
OHM Advisors, a community advancement firm out of Columbus, will be helping the village with needed zoning updates. Meetings will be held early next month to determine what the zoning issues are and how to fix them. Public meetings will follow. All updates on the matter will be reported to council.
Angela Shephard is a correspondent for the Village of Greenfield.