Canal Winchester City Council has approved an agreement with the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corp. that will give the city more tools for dealing with foreclosed and abandoned properties.
The memorandum of understanding approved by council Feb. 4 will provide the city with first right of refusal after the Central Ohio CIC assumes ownership of a delinquent property via its land-bank function.
"There's been a recent change in the law to allow the Central Ohio CIC to become a land bank, and they're receiving a lot of state money allowing them to demolish or rehabilitate homes that are vacant," Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire said.
"If a building is vacant and has been delinquent on tax payments for two or more years, then the Central Ohio CIC can work to take title to the property," he said.
A recent announcement about a cleanup at the old Parker Marathon site by the Central Ohio CIC prompted action on the agreement, Haire said.
The site, which is adjacent to Town Hall in Canal Winchester, has been leveled and seeded with grass for years, but underground petroleum tanks remain, making redevelopment impossible until clean up of the tanks and soil contamination is completed.
"This agreement needs to be in place for Central Ohio CIC to move forward with the Parker Marathon work," Haire said. "A part of the agreement is setting standards and protocols for what happens with these properties after the Central Ohio CIC takes them but before they are sold."
According to Haire, the agreement requires the CIC to request all the normal permits and variances necessary for demolition and construction, if it intends to rehabilitate a particular property, along with maintenance standards such as filling and reseeding the Parker Marathon property as a part of the work.
"They don't intend to own properties long term and so they want to demolish the structures or work with community partners like Habitat for Humanity to rehab structures if they can," Haire said. "So they'll notify us and get permits and use appropriate contractors, just like any other project."
Madison Township has used an agreement with the Central Ohio CIC multiple times to effectively deal with problem properties, Haire said.