Madison County has two less houses today than it did Tuesday morning.
The first two properties in Madison County were demolished, Tuesday, Jan. 21, as part of the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program, created to assist communities in their economic recovery by removing blighted or abandoned structures.
Mt. Sterling Village Administrator Joe Johnson said the county has been given about $183,000 through the program.
Several years ago, Ohio joined a $25 billion settlement agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers over what Attorney General Mike DeWine called “foreclosure abuses and fraud, and unacceptable nationwide mortgage practices.”
Ohio received about $330 million as part of that settlement. Of that settlement, $75 million was set aside to help revitalize neighborhoods by getting rid of blighted properties.
London was initially set to administer the program in Madison County, but it was eventually turned over to Johnson. Mt. Sterling will receive 5 percent of the funds for administering the program.
Johnson said six properties in Madison County are on track to be demolished. Those properties include:
• 135 Madison St., Mt. Sterling;
• 59 1/2 S. Oak St., London;
• 220 S. Oak St., London;
• 4185 Cheseldine Road, London;
• 11200 Foster Redman Road, Mt. Sterling;
• 10495 Cook Yankeetown Road, Mt. Sterling.
“They are vacant houses that need a lot of repairs,” said Johnson. “It is cheaper to tear them down than repair them.
“It cleans up dilapidated homes and eyesores. That increases the value for other homes around them. Plus, for the homeowner, it helps because it is no cost to them and it helps on their property tax because there is no house on the land.”
He said the program is entirely voluntary and the owner still owns the property.
DeWine also touted the value of the program in a recent release.
“This program is not a cure all for residential blight. However, by smartly maximizing local resources with funds from the national foreclosure settlement, Moving Ohio Forward can help remedy a significant portion of the damage caused to Ohio neighborhoods and property owners by the foreclosure crisis,” said DeWine.
In the release, the attorney general added he is “very pleased by the fact that every county in the state responded to our call to take advantage of these demolition grants. Local governments throughout Ohio…are actively taking back their communities from the rot and blight caused by abandoned houses.”
When the program was introduced, entities solicited for blighted residential properties in the county. Property owners were contacted and asked if they would be willing to participate and have their home demolished. If the property owner agreed, a process, including inspection, enforcement, condemnation, priority ranking, title check, hearing notice/advertising requirements, public nuisance hearing, historic hearing, demolition specifications, asbestos surveys, and asbestos abatement before demolition was conducted.
Johnson said a pair of the properties is still waiting to have asbestos removed so the homes can be demolished.
The original guidelines for the grant required all work to be completed by Dec. 31, 2013, but since no jurisdictions met the standard, the Ohio Attorney General extended the completion deadline until May 31, 2014.
Johnson said he is “going to do my best” to have the work completed by the deadline.
Funds may not be used for maintenance or after demolition costs. Program required blighted, vacant or abandoned structures be identified relying on the local governments’ strategic plan and/or Community Housing Improvement Strategy for a particular area.
Johnson said property owners interested in being part of the program can contact him at (740) 869-2040, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.