2016 is quickly passing as Summer is in full swing and Fall is right around the corner. The Scioto County Fair is coming soon and the citizens of Scioto County love this time of year. The fair is a great place to come together as a community and catch up on lost time. I hope to see you there!
In thisCommissioner Corner article I would like to address the Scioto County Land Reutilization Corporation (Scioto County Land Bank also known as SCLRC) and all the work going in to this new venture. The Board of County Commissioners is very excited about the potential this program will have for our community. The potential to tear down blighted, tax foreclosed, abandoned homes and replace them with green areas available to purchase, is much needed in many areas in our county. Everyone probably knows about a burnt out or falling in house somewhere. We also hope to restore and remodel existing homes to further offer better housing stocks for low to medium income buyers. This is much needed in our community. Our job is to identify those properties and try to reduce the blight to make our community look better.
The SCLRC board is made up of several people including myself, Scioto County Commissioner Doug Coleman, Scioto County Treasurer Bill Ogg, Portsmouth City Manager Derek Allen, and Clay Township Trustee Bill Runyon. The Scioto County Commissioners began looking at the potential for setting up a land bank in January of 2015. Once legislative hurdles were overcome in Columbus, Scioto County started down the path toward a land bank later that year. This included re-organizing our economic development office, renaming it the Scioto County Regional Planning Commission. This freed up labor by moving building department responsibilities to the state which reduced design and development time for local developers in the county, reducing government size and saving money. Jason Kester, the Executive Director of the Southern Ohio Port Authority, was able to secure funding to assist in the start-up and consulting cost. The SOPA board was in agreement. The Scioto Foundation board, who saw an opportunity to improve our area, came through with a generous grant to get the project underway. A consultant, the Western Reserve Conservancy out of Cleveland, who has steered many land banks through the start-up process, was hired. An initial meeting was held and a path forward charted.
The SCLRC is a brand new corporation, and like a new company, much foundational work must be accomplished in order to make the company successful. This takes time. At present, the SCLRC board has several to-do items underway. In addition to setting up legal, financial and marketing needs, the SCLRC is in the midst of applying for Hardest Hit Funds from the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Ohio has been awarded millions to address the home foreclosure disaster that occurred in 2008/09. The SCLRC will be applying for upwards of 2 million dollars to tear down over 100 homes in our community which are burned out, falling in, tax foreclosed and meet the program requirements. This will open up the rehabilitated properties to be purchased by adjacent property owners or interested developers placing the properties back on the tax rolls. The SCLRC has contracted with the Board of Scioto County Commissioners to utilize the current workforce to handle the application process. The Board of Scioto County Commissioners felt it was best for SOPA to concentrate on economic development and job creation and not to split their mission focus on real estate rehabilitation. The land bank will occasionally serve as a tool to open up properties for economic development so the SCLRC will cooperate with SOPA to achieve this. The employees within the commissioner’s office have a combined 50 years of experience in the administration of state and federal grant and loan programs. These programs include our current
CDBG/CHIP programs which has helped hundreds of low income property owners in rehabilitating their homes. With the Moving Ohio Forward Program, commissioner office staff worked with villages and townships to assess nuisance and blighted properties in the area to later be demolished. Asbestos Survey and Abatement were also key elements in the MOF program. Only licensed Asbestos Hazard Abatement Contractors with employees who are licensed could complete the work. Other key elements to project administration was completing the bidding process, contract award and finalizing the demolition process. The staff also has broad knowledge in floodplain management, deed filing and survey’s, GIS Mapping, building permit management, financial administration of state and federal grant programs and grant writing. The SCLRC and the commissioner’s office has been working hand in hand with SOPA, the City of Portsmouth, villages, townships, the offices of County Prosecutor, Engineer, Auditor, Treasurer, and Recorder to identify the properties needing addressed. This is a monumental effort being worked on by many entities and the team work being displayed at many levels is very impressive. By working together we will achieve great things. The deadline for application is September 2, 2016, and we feel confident we will be successful in obtaining these necessary, community changing.
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