County dwellings in disrepair to be demolished
Delaware County homes in advanced stages of disrepair could be coming down soon, thanks to a federal settlement agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers.
Delaware County commissioners voted 2–0 Monday to approve an agreement with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Program, which will provide the county with $500,000 to remove blighted residential properties.
The $25 billion settlement with Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorganChase and Wells Fargo is the result of a federal lawsuit alleging that the companies engaged in fraudulent foreclosure practices. A total of $75 million was earmarked for Ohio residential home demolitions.
Commissioner Ken O’Brien abstained from the vote despite the fact that last month he voted against a measure approving an agreement with a company to write the grant application. At the time, he said that he is not convinced that fraud occurred, and if it did, the settlement money should be used to help those with mortgages.
At a cost of about $10,000 per demolition, the county should be able to bring down about 50 blighted homes.
Commissioner Tommy Thompson questioned whether that will be enough to remove most of the county’s blighted homes.
“Can we assume that this one-time project probably won’t be enough to do all that is necessary and all that is needed in Delaware County?” Thompson asked.
“I think $500,000 will go a long way,” Delaware County Economic Development Director Gus Comstock said.
The county was actually eligible to receive $858,000 for home demolitions but accepting anything more than $500,000 would have required a local match. Following Comstock’s recommendation, commissioners decided to accept $500,000, and avoid ponying up any matching funds.
The Ohio Attorney General’s office has already approved the county’s application for the grant program. According to Comstock, the project should go out to bid in the near future.
“The next time you see us, we’ll be here with bid documents,” Comstock said.
The project, Comstock said, will improve property values for homeowners near blighted properties.
According to Comstock, the grant applications should be filed by November, and demolitions could begin soon after.
County residents can contact Comstock at GComstock@co.delaware.oh.us to recommend properties for demolition.
The commissioners on Monday also:
• Unanimously approved a modification to the contract for the Smothers and Harlem roads roundabout project. The amendment increases the contract to Jobes Henderson and Associates by $33,297, bringing the total to $199,166. The project is a joint venture between Delaware and Franklin counties. All costs are split evenly between the two counties.
• Voted 3–0 in favor of approving a $1.4 million contract with Double Z Construction for the Cheshire and 3B’s & K roads intersection improvement project. The project received interest from six other bidders, a fact that O’Brien was very pleased with.
• Following tradition, commissioners voted unanimously to hold their Sept. 17 meeting on the fairgrounds during fair week. The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m.