PDT Staff Writer
President of Portsmouth City Council John Haas expressed his appreciation for the work being done by the new Health Coalition, and said he is excited about the forward progress of the city’s Land Reutilization program at Monday’s Portsmouth City Council meeting.
“I went to the Coalition meeting. I go to the Land Reutilization parts, and I will say the meetings are very interesting,” Haas said. “I’ll bet there were 25 people there, and they are all interested, and they are all active and engaged, and they all want to see things moving forward.”
Haas was complimentary of the cooperation the program is getting from the Scioto County Prosecutor’s office.
“I spoke with (Scioto County Prosecutor) Mr. (Mark) Kuhn, and (Assistant Prosecutor) Shane Tieman the other day,” Haas said. “And I want to thank them publicly, both of them for allotting the time and taking on the Land Reutilization foreclosure. I think they’ve got 75 foreclosures that they are going to handle. Normally the Prosecutor’s office handles 40 in a year, so they are picking up another 75 on top of the other ones they are already doing, and Mr. Kuhn made the investment in hiring Mr. Tieman, giving him extra hours to help get that accomplished. Those are the kind of good things that happen behind the scenes that really need to be publicized and brought out that people need to see that things are moving forward.”
Portsmouth City Health Commissioner Chris Smith said the Neighborhood Advisory Committee is important to the process.
“If we have multiple applications for the same property, that committee will give advice on who that property should go to,” Smith said. “We have a member from each ward on that committee. We also contacted our Tax District Committee, made up of anybody that would have an interest in the taxes.”
Those entities include the City of Portsmouth, Scioto County, the Scioto County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and the Scioto County Career Technical Center.
Smith said there is an order as to how the city determines which houses to attempt to foreclose on and take ownership of.
“If someone is interested in a particular piece of property, we’re going to try to do those first,” Smith said. “Then, properties that are considered a nuisance that cannot be taken care of through normal channels, then properties the city is maintaining. And finally, tax delinquent properties. It is important for people to know these are vacant properties. Nobody is getting put out of their homes or anything like that. These are vacant, abandoned properties.” He said the Certified Delinquent List presently consists of 1,500 properties, and to qualify for that list, must have been certified delinquent, meaning they must not have had the taxes paid for two years.
Smith said all houses must sell at the fair market value. Currently, the price of a vacant lot is $2,000 and the price of a vacant house is $500.
“We don’t have to take the highest bidder,” Smith said. “If a landlord wants to put a rental property in, and somebody wants to renovate it for their home, we might say, ‘we have enough rental property, we’ll give it to that single family.’”
The Coalition is bringing together educators, Adult Protective Services, Children Services, Community Action, law enforcement, hospitals, health care providers, social workers, politically elected people, all who can offer expert opinions or advice, working toward a consensus to try to make things work for as many people as possible in the community.
“It really makes you feel good to go to these meetings and see things happening, and receiving follow-up calls from some of the people that were at the meeting,” Haas said.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org