SIDNEY — In May, the Shelby County commissioners designated the Shelby County Land Reutilization Corp. (land bank) as the agency for the reclamation, rehabilitation and reutilization of vacant, abandoned, tax-foreclosed and other real property in the county.
The land bank must now acquire vacant and blighted target properties and locate end users for the properties following demolition. Nonprofit organizations may want to utilize these properties to expand their missions, and multiple other uses are now under consideration.
Land bank officials encourage residents of Sidney and Shelby County to suggest properties that may be abandoned and in an especially bad state of repair for possible inclusion in the program. In addition, residents are encouraged to contact the land bank if they are interested in obtaining these properties following their demolition and greening.
The mission of the land bank is to improve communities and neighborhoods within the county by eliminating or rehabilitating blighted structures and returning foreclosed properties to productive use. The land bank’s board of directors is currently focusing on identifying abandoned and blighted properties to eliminate their negative effect on the surrounding neighborhoods.
By state statute, the county treasurer is an automatic member of a land bank board, as are two of the three county commissioners and a representative of the county’s largest city.
In addition to Shelby County Treasurer Linda Meininger, County Commissioners Robert Guillozet and Julie Ehemann and Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst, retired bank executive Dave Voisard was appointed a board member. Almost immediately, the board contracted with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy for the services of Robin Thomas. Thomas, the land bank program director for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, will provide technical assistance and support necessary as the local land bank begins operations.
In July, the Board contracted with former bank executive and retired Shelby County Auditor Denny York to coordinate all activities relating to acquiring properties, demolishing structures and locating viable end-users. In addition, York was charged with preparing an application for funds from the Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP). NIP funds are only available to qualified local land banks.
NIP, a program of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA), is a program designed to help prevent foreclosures and stabilize local property values through the demolition and greening of vacant and blighted homes across the state. Through the grant process, the OHFA is distributing $191 million, available as a result of the Hardest Hit Fund Program.
The application submitted by York requests $650,000 in demolition funds. The land bank’s application is now under review, with a response expected in mid-October. These funds will be used to acquire and demolish dozens of residential properties in target areas within the city of Sidney and throughout Shelby County.
Interested residents and organizations are encouraged to contact York at the land bank through the Shelby County treasurer’s office either by phone at 498-7290 or email at email@example.com.
Interested residents and organizations are encouraged to contact York at the Shelby County Land Reutilization Corporation through the Shelby County Treasurer’s Office either by phone (937.498.7290) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.