Land bank director: 40 properties down

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

SIDNEY — It was just a year ago this month that the Shelby County Land Reutilization Corp. took down its first condemned house.

Since then, the land bank has demolished 40 properties throughout Shelby County. Director Doug Ahlers reported to the committee during its regular meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 2, that the land bank has acquired 60 properties and sold two.

“We have been reimbursed $495,202.27 by the (Neighborhood Initiative Program, a state funding partner,) thus far. We have another $110,000 requested for demolitions completed. Demolitions bid but not yet completed are estimated to cost $180,000,” Ahlers said.

He noted that five parties are interested in purchasing a property at 12266 Short Drive in Sidney and there is an agreement to sell a property at 20522 state Route 47 in Maplewood. The sale should be complete this month. A property along Robert Place in Sidney is scheduled to be auctioned Oct. 20.

The committee discussed a property along S. Miami St. and noted that Holy Angels Church had expressed some interest in acquiring it.

“It has to have a purpose. You can’t just have it and hold it,” said Jim Gaier, of Sidney, who has purchased land bank properties in the past. Neither individuals nor organizations can purchase a vacant property and just “sit on it,” he said. They have to have a plan for its use.

Sometimes, the land bank has been able to help other organizations. The Lockington Fire Department trained in a house along Seminole Trail in that village before the house was demolished.

Ahlers reported that the committee has requested up to $5,000 from the city of Sidney to help to pay for the demolition of a property at 230 N. Walnut St.

He reported that taking down a house along Lane Street cost $51,021.43, of which just $50,000 is reimburseable. Its costs were elevated because its floor caved in, falling on a furnace covered in asbestos.

“So the asbestos couldn’t be taken out safely. The whole house had to be put into bags and then taken to a special landfill,” Ahlers said.

The land bank would like to acquire more derelict properties. It is a nonprofit organization, so owners can get a tax break by donating their vacant properties to it.

“Sidney’s vacant property ordinance passed in August. I hope that it may motivate vacant-property owners to liquidate their vacant properties, which could help us to acquire more homes,” the director said.

The board noted that a future discussion may be planned to address by-law changes concerning budgeting.

For information about donating a property or bidding to buy or demolish one, call 498-7253.

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.