Trustees take aim at blighted properties
Prairie Township trustees listened to complaining residents and are looking into homes and buildings at risk for fire due to unstable conditions and trash build up.
The Hometown Inn, formerly a restaurant and hotel located at 4601 W. Broad St., was supposed to have been demolished last February, according to owner Krishna Choudhary.
The restaurant portion of the building is still in operation and is being rented out, but the hotel has not been in operation since February 2008.
Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker believes the building is a blight on West Broad Street because of the poor structure conditions and unused hotel portion. He said the area is attracting vagrants and vermin.
Trustees voted to send a notice to Choudhary of a hearing which will determine whether the building will be demolished or repaired.
Hatmaker also said there is an issue of unpaid back taxes owed on the property, which may put the owner into foreclosure.
“We are going to continue to work with the county prosecutor office to work toward foreclosure,” Hatmaker said.
If the property is foreclosed upon, Prairie Township would pay for the demolition of the Hometown Inn.
On Feb. 12, 2008, Choudhary attended a Prairie Township Board of Zoning appeals meeting to apply for a variance which would split the hotel property from the restaurant property.
Choudhary intended to demolish the hotel after the division of property and at that meeting stated this demolition would occur in February 2009.
The motion for the variance passed and the property is listed as two parcels on the Franklin County auditor’s Web site. However, the property has yet to be demolished and Choudhary said it all comes down to his bank, which will not provide the loan for demolition and renovation of the Hometown Inn.
“The bank is not approving it. I spent lots of money and time and because of it I’m in big trouble. The bank is not local and they are hard to work with...There’s nothing I can do about it,” Choudhary explained.
He said he had lots of good ideas for the property and he is aware the vacant building is dangerous. He said he wants to tear down the outdated structure, possibly sell off parts of the full acre lot for shops and put up a new hotel.
“Nobody has any solution. I want to be more proactive and improve the area, but the bank looks at the book, they don’t look at the reality. They are not in Columbus so they don’t see...We can only do so much,” Choudhary said.
Choudhary has the property listed for sale and he said he is possibly at risk for foreclosure.
“It’s the bad market, a bad economy or maybe my bad luck... There is a possibility of foreclosure,” he said.
In further efforts to eliminate blight in the township, three residential addresses will also be subject to hearing notices due to “a steady stream of citizen complaints,” said Hatmaker.
One address on Evergreen Terrace and two on Mix Avenue are abandoned lots in poor condition, according to trustees.
The locations were investigated by a representative of the Prairie Township Fire Department, who provided a letter for each structure asking the board to start proceedings to have hearings and potentially remove the structures.
The Ohio Revised Code allows the township to take such action.
Hatmaker said the house on Evergreen Terrace is a concern of the Ohio Department of Health. He indicated the structure was falling apart and trash was in abundance.
One of the Mix Avenue properties was the site of a fire last year.
“No work has been done to renovate it since then and it is certainly unstable. It is apparently abandoned. No one has come back to start repairing it and we are concerned that it is not going to be corrected,” Hatmaker said.
He said the other Mix Avenue property is a deteriorating vacant structure.
Safety is the major issue with vacant, unsound structures, according to Hatmaker.
“They are dangerous because someone might try to go into them for shelter and try to light a fire and then cause a fire,” he said.
The hearings for the houses will be held on Dec. 16. At this time, the board will determine whether to remove or repair the properties at the expense of the township.