Williams County Eyes Four Sites For Demolition Through Land Bank

If everything falls into place, the Williams County Land Bank will soon be nearly halfway to owning 10 properties.

The Williams County Land Reutilization Corporation met Nov. 28 to discuss updates on the current property it is trying to acquire and three additional sites. The panel must acquire 10 homes by May and seems well on its way.

Land Bank program director Robin Thomas, of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, laid out the process the WCLRC must following in acquiring homes to be demolished through the Neighborhood Improvement Program.

First, money must be borrowed against a property which places a lien against the property.

The next step is demolition of the property and the greening of the site. Another lien will be place on the property for the demolition costs (a second mortgage).

Reimbursement of demolition costs and the administrative fee. The first mortgage is paid off and the second is a three-year no-interest note.

The demolition will be paid using NIP funds, with the Land Bank reimbursed and a lien placed for costs on the property.

The first mortgage will be between $1 and $100, most likely around $10, Thomas said. The mortgage will be paid off when the LRC is paid off, she said.

“It’s a crazy exchange of paperwork,” Thomas said. “But it meets the requirements.”

The second mortgage will have $25,000 placed on the property, Thomas said. This is the zero percent loan, she said.

“You can’t make money on NIP properties,” Thomas said about covering the cost of demolition.

Transfers of ownership allowed include giving the land to neighboring property owners as a side yard; giving to a non-profit organization; transfer to a political subdivision for a public purpose. Construction of operations must begin in one year; transfer to an eligible residential or business developer for fair market value with construction beginning in a year.

The property can be held for three years for $400 a year for maintenance.

Non-approved transfers will require the full lien be paid off to NIP.

As for the first property, Armstrong Excavating is the lowest bidder ($8,460) among seven companies and has been chosen as the demolition contractor for the property at 503 S. Williams St., in Bryan. The number of bids is a sign of the strong interest in demolishing homes, Dennis Miller of the Maumee Valley Planning Organization said.

“They met all the specs,” Miller said of the winning bid. “We have done business with them before.”

The bid from Armstrong will be altered when the committee decided that all the stumps on property have to be removed.

The property will eventually be given to Habitat For Humanity after three years as the organization wants a Bryan site for a new home by then. Habitat is an approved end user for NIP

Once the property is cleared, it must sit for three years as a vacant lot before the Land Bank can unload it. In this case, Habitat for Humanity of Williams County has expressed an interest in the site, County Treasurer Vickie Grimm said.

“They will take possession when we are done,” Grimm said. “Habitat is an approved end-used for the Neighborhood Improvement Program.

The steps involved in meeting the requirements is what one state official called a “crazy exchange of paperwork.”

The Land Bank must put some money on a first mortgage, anywhere between $1 and $100, but most often $10. The committee then “borrows” the $10 and places a mortgage on the property.

The mortgage is paid off when the agency is reimbursed for the demolition and greening of a property.

The county agency is forbidden from profiting from the exchange of ownership for the sites. While there is an $8,600 lien on the property.

In addition to the property at 503 Williams, the Land Bank is looking at three other properties in Bryan as well.

Chairman Brian Weiland introduced a property at 321 Cherry St. where the owners want to donate the site. It is a fire-damaged property valued at $10,000.

The other two are 426 N. Williams and 325 N. Meyers. Grimm said the owners of both homes are prepared to sign ownership over to the county.

The committee must approve a budget this month before progressing.

James Pruitt may be reached at publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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