At their first meeting since November, members of the Highland County Land Reutilization Corporation heard a proposal to sell some of their properties near Rocky Fork Lake on Jan. 21, while plans for another planned acquisition in the area were described as "deadlocked" for the time being .
As previously reported, Mark Current, Housing Director of the Highland County Community Action Organization, told Landbank in November that two packages on Cinderella Drive had received no offers. The board filed a motion with Current for an "explosion" promoting the property to real estate agents.
Current said Thursday that no real estate agents have shown interest yet, but the land bank may pursue an opportunity with the Highland County Board of DD.
Larry Gray of DD's Highland County Board, who attended the meeting, said they may be interested in these parcels and possibly other properties that are being tracked by the land bank.
"There's some money coming down, government-level money," Current said. “Larry secured some of that money for Highland County. There's a group, Highland Housing, which, like Highland County Community Action, has houses – I think about 10 properties right now – and rents them to people with developmental disabilities. "
Current said the board may be interested in "building a new home, probably 3 bedrooms or so, on this lot".
"It could be an option to help both the Landbank and DD," Current said.
Gray told the board that he was working to secure real estate in Counties Highland and Fayette and that they had to "act quickly".
"We still need homes in this ward for many different people we serve," Gray said.
Current also addressed the issue of a potential conflict of interest.
"Since Community Action manages the land bank and then also buys real estate from the land bank, that doesn't look quite right," Current said. “Even though we manage Highland Housing houses, their houses belong to the Highland Housing Board. I think it would be a different situation. "
Board member Terry Britton said he thinks "it could be a good partnership if we can do it legally". Jeff Duncan, member of the board of directors, invited Gray to "keep the channels open here and see if we can't do anything".
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In another update, Current said that he had "high hopes" for the Rocky Fork Truck Stop property through Tuesday this week, but now, he said, they are stuck until further notice.
As previously reported, at its meeting on Thursday, July 23, the HCLRC heard a proposal to acquire and redevelop the former Rocky Fork Truck Stop site as part of a government grant program.
At that meeting, Current said the property, located at 12410 US-50, owed $ 10,578.51 in back taxes. Tetra Tech's Matthew Wagner spoke to the land bank executive in July about the Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Grant he could pursue if the land bank purchases the property.
However, Current informed the board in September that the owners of the Rocky Fork Truck Stop are now aware of their taxes, so the county will not seal off the property.
"I spoke to the Rockhold Bank that holds the mortgage on this property," Current said. "They told me the original mortgage there, which I knew was $ 450,000, was partially repaid, but they wouldn't tell me how much."
Current said the bank stated that the landowner hoped to sell the property, but the bank gave a message to the landowner, who then reached out to Current. According to Current, the landowner has two "interested" potential buyers who are looking at the property but would let him know if that fails.
Current explained to the landowner the potential environmental problems "with the tanks in the ground" requiring cleaning and that the grant could cover these costs, but only if the land bank acquires the property.
Current said Wagner had verified that the state development agency "would not pay for the removal of the tanks" if the property reverted to the previous landlord, either through a transfer from the land bank or through sale.
"It's kind of stuck right now," Current said. "We'll keep an eye on it and see what happens."
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On October 15, the board reviewed a list of eight potential properties submitted by the City of Hillsboro. One of these (540 Johnson St.) was later removed when Lauren Walker, who was in charge of enforcing city law, said she would take legal action on the property.
For the remaining properties, Current told the board that two contractors had checked the parcels and that there was "real interest in one of the houses and some, I believe, questionable interest in two others."
A home at 256 East Walnut Street has "great potential" and interest from both contractors. However, board member Karen Bridges pointed out that the land bank is currently unable to take action due to tax payments being made for the first half of 2019.
"We wouldn't be able to do anything," she said. "It is not certified as a criminal. It must be classified as a criminal for two years."
Additionally, the contractors believed that 622 South East Street and 305 East South Street could potentially be redeveloped, but were unsure as they did not have access to the inside of the houses. Other properties on the list would have to "put more money into the list than you would ever get out of them making them demo situations," Current said.
Board member Charles Guarino suggested that the land bank could include the remaining Hillsboro properties in a joint package deal to demolish the existing structures if acquired.
"We really don't have a good grip on getting these properties under control," said Britton. "We could turn our wheels a little."
Guarino asked if any of the properties were eligible for foreclosure due to attempts to contact the owners or their relatives in recent months.
"All of these properties were tax delinquent," said Walker. "I didn't know if they were in foreclosure or not. If they have violated any framework against them, I can go that route, but if it's just grass nuisance, I really can't." Take that to court to take ownership of this property. If they really do fall, like 540 Johnson Street, it goes to court and we can bring it up and get bids and so on. ”
Guarino asked if the city could continue demolishing the other lots that contractors had advised would fall. Walker said they might "if (the houses) have structural problems".
"What do you think the city wants to do?" Asked Guarino.
"If there were tax-deferred taxes that were foreclosed, then we should hold back," said Walker. "If they are not excluded, I can continue."
According to Bridges, 235 Willow Street is the only property on the foreclosure list.
"If you want to hold back, I can go on with our end," said Walker. “We want to continue too. It's kind of embarrassing that these properties have been there for so long. "
Guarino said "it sounds like things are moving faster" to get the city to focus on the real estate. Current asked if the city could remove the taxes.
"I don't realize that," said Walker. "Everything I read, like with our CIC, was one of my questions. Do we still have to pay the property assessments? I wasn't 100 percent clear, and I emailed Fred (Beery, City Law Director) this morning sent and asked this question. "
Walker said, however, that "the city cannot acquire the land" so it would likely have to pass through a land bank at some point. "The land bank can remove the taxes," Current said.
"How would we get involved if they were working with the nuisance?" Asked Guarino. "What do we have to do from the land bank's point of view?"
Duncan said he had the same question, "How could we get hold of them?"
"We'd have to do roughly one title search for each of them," Current said. "If it has a mortgage, technically we can't take it out."
Walker offered to speak to Beery to see if they could do some of the title search and to clarify whether or not taxes would fall on the town before deciding whether to take legal action or the real estate one Should be subjected to foreclosure.
"We're going to discuss this and wait to hear from you or Fred," said Guarino.
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In other updates:
• According to Current, attorney Greg VanZant advised the board of directors "may be wasting (their) time" trying to purchase a property on Cameron Drive in Greenfield, as several mortgages have been placed on the property through the Ohio Department of Taxation.
Board member Randy Mustard asked "if there is anything the prosecution can do to help" acquire the property. "After that there has to be a way," he said.
"I'll find out," Current said. “I assumed Greg was talking about the Ohio Department of Taxation. The reason they (the owner) filed against is their state tax, not their property tax.
"Greg said this follows the lot."
Duncan said the land bank can only issue property taxes, not income taxes. Guarino suggested speaking to other representatives from the local land bank to see if they had looked at similar issues.
• Current reported that there was a closing on November 23 for the 6830 Heather Moor Trail, which was split into two packages because "both neighbors paid for it".
• Current said the 11540 Dundee Drive owners have not returned any notice of termination.
• The paperwork for two properties in Greenfield – one on McClain Avenue and one on Carford Pike – owned by Fannie Mae is "practically done," Current said. Documents have been drawn up for both properties, which can then be presented by the Landbank for submission of tenders.
"We don't officially own it yet, but we'll have the documentation for it in a few days," Current said. "The property is valued at $ 4,300 each, according to the auditor's website."
Guarino asked how a situation of suspected squatters on the McClain Avenue property can be "resolved".
"The people who live there have the utilities on their behalf," Current said. "They pay their bills, so Greenfield Village doesn't want – I mean, they pay for electricity. They don't pay taxes. The previous owner told them they could live there as long as they wanted. So in their minds they aren't Squatters. "
Bridges said she could see if the property was classified as criminal.
"It would mean we'd have to vacate them, which I fine, but I think our guidelines say we'll get a vacant property," Current said. "Or we could change our policies and procedures."
• Properties on Heathermoor Trail and Cathy & # 39; s Court are both mortgaged, and Current said he had to contact those institutions with the mortgages to see if they would release those two properties.
"Once again the properties are kind of stuck," he said. "There is no benefit to them in holding on to them and leaving them as they are. I hope they will clear those mortgages and then we could take them and clean them up and put them in someone else's hands."
• A property on Golden Doubloon Lane is a "fairly straightforward process" according to VanZant when they can get in touch with the owner. "That sounds promising," said Current.
• Duncan asked if Current had looked at other new properties. Current said he recently looked at a property that "was basically a gutter and didn't appear to be sellable at all".
"I wouldn't recommend getting it," he said.
Bridges said she also gave Current a list of properties to check in to.
• Tax officer Beth Allering reported an account balance of $ 201,435.42 as of December 31, 2020. At their request, the board voted 5-0 to approve a motion to sign / approve payment to the Highland County Community Action Organization for administrative expenses for July through December ($ 3,900) and financial management for June through December ($ 2,340) for a total of $ 6,240.