County Land Bank helps Groveport handle fire damaged property

By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

The city of Groveport is working with the Franklin County Land Bank to deal with a parcel in town that became a property maintenance issue after a house fire.

According to information from the Franklin County Treasurer’s Office, the Franklin County Land Bank deals with blighted, vacant, or tax delinquent properties that decrease surrounding home values. The Land Bank works with state or local government partners to rehab or demolish blighted buildings to restore a property to productive use.

Groveport City Council started the Land Bank process by authorizing the city’s acceptance of the parcel located at 384 Westport Drive from the property owner as a land donation by way of a deed.

“This is the house on Westport Drive that burned down,” said City Administrator Marsha Hall.

City Attorney Kevin Shannon said the site had been cited for a property maintenance violation.

“The house burned, but the garage still stood,” said Shannon. “The owner is gone, but still possessed the property. It’s our understanding a foreclosure process was started and stopped.”

Hall said the city paid to have the remains of the house demolished this past fall.

“Normally, our cost for the demolition would be placed on the owner’s property taxes to pay the city back, but we’ve been unable to have that taken care of,” said Hall.

Hall said the financial institution that held the mortgage agreed to take possession of the property in order to have the property go through the Franklin County Land Bank process.

“The city will take possession of the property from the bank, then turn it over to the Franklin County Land Bank,” said Hall. “The Land Bank will pay to have the remaining garage removed, clean up the property, forgive the property taxes, then turn the property back over to the city. The city can then sell the property to reimburse us for our cost of demolishing the house.”

Added Shannon, “This process enables the city to take care of an eyesore.”

City finances looking good

Finance Director Jeff Green said the city’s finances at the end of 2016 are in fine shape.

“Our income tax revenue in 2016 is up nearly 5.5 percent compared to this time in 2015,” said Green.

Through November 2016, income tax revenue totaled $12.9 million compared to $12.2 million in 2015.

Green also thanked the city’s staff for helping to improve the city’s general fund balance outlook going into 2017.

“It’s a credit to our staff for reining in expenses,” said Green. “It’s been a good year.”

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