Calling the Highland County Land Bank’s first closings on blighted properties last week “a great milestone,” county commissioner Terry Britton joined the land bank’s board of directors as they pressed on Thursday with discussions concerning future real estate acquisitions and the retention of a CPA firm to assist in the filing of documents with the state of Ohio.
Also at Thursday’s meeting in the large basement meeting room of the Highland County Administration Building was fellow county commissioner Jeff Duncan, along with land bank board members Karen Bridges and Charlie Guarino.
Representing the Highland County Community Action Organization, Inc. was housing director Mark Current and assistant fiscal director Beth Allering.
The first order of business was Allering’s fiscal report, which included a request that was later approved, to retain the services of Millhuff-Stang CPA of Chillicothe to prepare and file the financial statements of the Highland County Land Reutilization Corporation (HCLRC), in addition to consultation so the organization could produce and file documents going forward.
Current told the board he was still “reaching out” to the mortgage holders of three properties the board discussed at its special meeting on Aug. 6, and was still hopeful they could be acquired.
As previously reported in The Times-Gazette, the organization was checking into property at 6774 Heathermoor Trail and 11410 Cathys Court in the Rocky Fork Lake region, in addition to the Rocky Fork Truck Stop property.
Current said they all had been abandoned, but title searches revealed outstanding mortgages on all three properties of $33,497, $166,500 and $450,000, respectively.
He said he had been advised to contact the owners of the properties so they could in turn contact their respective mortgage institutions and encourage them to get with the HCLRC so they could be “cleaned up and be productive again.”
In other business Thursday, the board moved to accept the offer of $2,300 from Frank Eicher for the purchase of a third parcel of land adjoining two other parcels he purchased and closed on at 11465 and 11471 Dundee Drive.
Current also reported that the property at 6830 Heathermoor Trail was being surveyed, and that two parcels on Cinderella Drive were being bid out.
New properties under consideration by the land bank include:
• 11262 Cameron Drive, Greenfield, which Current said was currently abandoned, with a past due tax amount of $6,688 and land valuation of $8,400.
• 222 McClain Ave., Greenfield, which he said he was told was abandoned, but appeared to have people living in it. It has $8,331.10 in back taxes due and was valued at $7,700.
• Two parcels at 750 Carford Pl., Greenfield, located at the corner of SR 138 and Juvenile Street, had back taxes due of $17,254.68 and $3,864.75, respectively. Both parcels were valued at $4,300 each. Bridges told the board it was foreclosed property from Fannie Mae, situated on a corner lot that she called “a prime location,” and one they “want to wash their hands of it.”
Guarino said that conversations he had had with Hillsboro Mayor Justin Harsha indicated that the city may have properties for land bank consideration.
Kim Newman and Lauren Walker from the mayor’s office were at the meeting and were advised to supply the addresses to Current.
“Most of them are all abandoned properties,” Walker said. “I don’t think any of the ones I have on my list people currently live in them, or they’re deceased.”
She said that the list she would submit to the land bank all contained properties with back taxes, and that others, though abandoned, didn’t have any past due taxes showing.
“A few of the property owners have died, and they didn’t will their property to anybody and they’re just sitting there, so now it’s become a code enforcement issue,” she said.
Duncan recommended that the city submit the address list so that follow-up could be done to see if they fit land bank criteria.
The next meeting of the Highland County Land Reutilization Corp. is scheduled 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 17.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.