Salem part of new land bank focus

By DEANNE JOHNSON

Staff Writer

LISBON – Columbiana County’s new land bank will begin by focusing on dilapidated properties in East Liverpool, Salem and Wellsville.

County Development Director Tad Herold, who is managing the new land bank program, told the members of the board of the Land Reutilization Corp. at their organizational meeting he believes the properties in those cities and village will meet the requirements for the grant the board is seeking.

Herold is in the process of seeking a $500,000 grant through the Ohio Housing Finance Authority. Part of the process of applying for the Neighborhood Initiative Program money is identifying target areas which meet certain statistical criteria. At this point, Harold said, there is a fairly extensive list of properties which meet the statistical requirements, including some in Leetonia.

Additionally, the properties being targeted are residential, abandoned and tax delinquent, the latter which makes it easier for the county to obtain them.

Once the homes are obtained and demolition takes place, the land bank can be reimbursed up to $25,000 per property for the work, according to Robin Thomas of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, who is assisting the board. At this point, county commissioners have allocated $50,000 to the land bank as seed money to get projects started and cover additional expenses.

Thomas also pointed out it helps the application to be able to show where the properties being torn down will make a difference for the remaining home owners in the neighborhood.

Board member Sherrie Curtis, a councilwoman from East Liverpool, gave an example of someone in her city who is planning to renovate a Victorian style home but is concerned about some of the dilapidated homes, some of which are rental units nearby.

“These are places you wouldn’t put your dog in,” Curtis said.

She pointed out the woman with the Victorian home plans to invest a large amount of money into her property and a program like this one could help her.

While the board plans to concentrate its immediate efforts on residential homes in East Liverpool, Salem and Wellsville, it was discussed it is mostly because the grant money being currently sought covers those types of properties. In the future, the land bank can also turn its attention to rundown business properties and properties in other communities across the county.

The deadline for the application is July 31 and the board determined Commissioners Mike Halleck and Jim Hoppel, along with county Treasurer Linda Bolon, will proof-read Herold’s application. Then Bolon will sign off before it is submitted.

The next meeting of the board is set for 10:30 a.m. Aug. 6 at the courthouse.

djohnson@mojonews.com