If there is an old, abandoned service station in your neighborhood, it’s entirely possible the city of Portsmouth and/or Scioto County want to clean up that eyesore.
Assistant director of the Scioto County Land Bank, Angie Malone, says the county is in the process of attempting to gain Ohio Environmental Protection Agency grants to remove at least three gas stations around the county.
“There’s a lot to it,” she acknowledges. “It’s a process.”
The county seems furthest along regarding an abandoned service station on Duck Run Road in Rush Township. If the land bank is successful in acquiring a grant, the station will be demolished, any underground tanks removed and any environmental cleanup necessary completed.
“It’s a genuine eyesore,” says Michael Crabtree, chairman of the Scioto County Board of Commissioners. He adds that, while the county has its eyes on three stations so far, they may be targeting more in the future.
Commissioner Bryan Davis normally handles land bank issues for the commissioners, according to Crabtree. Davis was on vacation this week and unavailable for comment.
Even as the county moves forward with its plans, the city said in a prepared statement it has obtained a $100,000 Ohio Development Service Agency Abandoned Gas Station Grant.
This grant will allow for the removal of the underground storage tanks, piping, gas dispenser and any vacant structures on the property located at 2617 Scioto Trail. This grant will also provide for any environmental restoration needed.
According to Andy Gedeon, director of Environmental Health at the Portsmouth City Health Department, “This property has been a nuisance and an eyesore to our community for many years.”
Gedeon credits a collaborative effort of the Office of Community Development, Portsmouth City Health Department, Portsmouth Police Department Code Enforcement Officer, City Solicitor’s Office, Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office and Tetra Tech, Inc. with making the demolition and cleanup possible.
This property is the first to be cleaned up due to its location near the entrance of the city, Belinda Leslie, public information officer for the city health department, wrote in the city’s prepared statement. She added plans are being made to clean up other abandoned stations in the future. Demolition of the Scioto Trail property is set to begin Monday, Leslie says.
The land bank’s Malone says the county has obtained or is trying to obtain grants to acquire and/or demolish some 68 properties throughout the area. Malone adds officials hope to deal with 20 to 30 additional distressed properties by the end of 2018.
Malone says because the acquisitions are funded by grant money, there are strings attached to what happens to the abandoned properties once they become part of the land bank. Rules require properties first be made available to adjacent landowners at a much-reduced price of $200. Essentially, Malone says the properties are used to increase residential lot sizes. However, to be eligible for the reduced price, a potential buyer must live on and own the property next to any land bank property. If residential property adjacent to land bank property is being rented, the landlord may still buy the land bank property, but must pay market value.
Should someone wish to buy land bank property for economic development, such as putting up a business, they must pay the price of the initial demolition, Malone says. She adds the county has not yet sold any land bank property for economic development purposes.
In addition to the Duck Run service station, Malone mentions the county looked at acquiring a station in Lucasville, which she believes has now been torn down by a private concern. For the immediate future, they also are eyeing a station in Otway.
Reach Tom Corrigan at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931