Land Bank holds 1st meeting in almost 3 months


SIDNEY – The Shelby County Land Reutilization Corp. has acquired several properties, Director Doug Ahlers reported during the group’s meeting on June 2, its first meeting in almost three months.

The Land Bank recently acquired the property at 632 Second Ave. in Sidney, which will be demolished. The property at 751 State Route 589 in Conover is being sold through a sealed bid, with the high bid being $5,000.

A property that was owned by Viola Ralston in Plattsville will be transferred to the Green Township trustees. The trustees have a parcel directly next to it and already mow the area.

A property on North Main Street in Jackson Center that was owned by Timothy Bell will be sold to the village for $2,300, which will recoup the Land Bank’s expenses. The property is located next to a lot where the village keeps its utility vehicles.

The Land Bank has acquired 88 units in total, 71 of which have been demolished and 10 of which have been sold.

The Land Bank also has several properties in various stages of foreclosure. Properties in foreclosure include a property owned by Gary Waters at 326 W. Park St. in Sidney, a property owned by Richard Dulaney at 16999 County Road 25A in Botkins, a property owned by Dickie King at 310 Enterprise Ave. in Sidney, a property owned by Barbara Schloss at 304 High St. in Port Jefferson and a property owned by Larkin Davis at 212 Sophia Ave. in Sidney.

Treasurer John Coffield reported the Shelby County Land Bank has a current balance of $479,759.32.

The Land Bank’s recent expenses included $10,490 to First Choice Excavation & Demolition for demolition at 716 E. Court St. in Sidney and $8,180 to Huelskamp Drainage and Excavation for demolition at 429 E. Main St. in Port Jefferson.

The group’s recent revenue included $43,808 in delinquent tax assessment collection money and $32,774.90 in Neighborhood Initiative Program reimbursements.

“We didn’t think there was anymore money, and there really isn’t, but some communities didn’t use theirs, and it comes back in the general pool,” Ahlers said of the NIP reimbursements. “And we were lucky enough to be picked to get some of that.”

Shelby County’s Land Bank received reimbursement for demolition at 227-231 S. Miami Ave. in Sidney. The organization was able to receive funds for each of the property’s three addresses.

“It was a nice surprise because we thought we were done with state money,” Ahlers said. “There could be more yet, but I’m not holding my breath.”

Ahlers reported House Bill 252, which would provide funding for industrial demolition, probably is dead because of economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“House Bill 252 is probably dead now with the state not having any money,” he said. “They had found a funding source, but now the state is going to use that for something else.”

The Land Bank had hoped funding could help clean up industrial sites in the county, including the former Wagner foundry in Sidney.

“I don’t anticipate a lot of money being available from the state right now just because they’re probably having their own financial problems,” Ahlers said.

After a discussion, Shelby County’s Land Bank decided to contribute $500 to the legal defense fund for the Ohio Land Bank Association.

“There are some attorneys suing Ohio Land Banks just because they don’t like the way laws are written,” Ahlers said. “They so far have targeted large Land Banks in Cuyahoga County, Montgomery County.”

There is a case before the Ohio Supreme Court. Victory in the case could help shield other Land Banks from possible lawsuits.

“We don’t know if they’re going to come for a small Land Bank or not,” Ahlers said. “Because if they would, we would need help with representation.”

Ahlers reported the Hinkle Report, an annual financial report, was filed with the state and is available for review by the public in the Land Bank office. Also, he said the Shelby County Land Bank is being audited for the years 2018 and 2019.

The Land Bank went into executive session to discuss pending legal issues. No action was taken.

The Land Bank’s next meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. July 7 in the Shelby County Annex.

The Land Bank’s April and May meetings were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on gatherings. All nine attendees of the June meeting in the Annex wore face coverings and observed social distancing.

By Kyle Shaner

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Reach this writer at [email protected] or 937-538-4824.

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