Blendon Township last week took over the deed of a dilapidated residence at 3545 Makassar Drive, becoming the first Franklin County government entity to take control of a property through the county land bank program.

Blendon Township last week took over the deed of a dilapidated residence at 3545 Makassar Drive, becoming the first Franklin County government entity to take control of a property through the county land bank program.

"I think that place has probably been an eyesore for at least 10 years," code enforcement director Bryan Rhoads said. "The previous owner had some financial issues and the property just fell to pieces, so Franklin County went in and took over the property into the land bank program."

According to the Franklin County Treasurer's Office, the land bank program allows a political subdivision to acquire vacant lots or properties with structures that are unoccupied and deemed nonproductive. This foreclosure process must result in the property being offered for sale twice without an offer to purchase for unpaid taxes.

Properties eligible for the program typically include vacant lots with delinquent taxes that amount to more than the property's value, abandoned homes or commercial structures and environmentally distressed properties, according to the treasurer's office.

The Makassar Drive house was sold at auction for $40,000 at a sheriff's sale on Dec. 5. When the buyer backed out of the deal, no bid was made at a second auction held Dec. 26, according to Rhoads.

Rhoads said the residence was in particular disrepair.

"Some of the township's crew went over and the roof was completely caved in," he said. "The kitchen floor was completely gone; the whole house is caving in."

Township trustee Stew Flaherty said he hopes to get the building razed quickly.

"The plan as discussed is to pursue demolition as soon as possible," Flaherty said. "We'll seek bids for the demolition, and it has to be verified that the structure contains no asbestos. We're proud to set the stage with this and show that it can be done."

Rhoads said asbestos inspections took place this week, and once results of the tests are analyzed by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, demolition could begin in as soon 10 days.

Once that is done, Flaherty said the township hopes to recoup its costs by selling the property. Rhoads said the process cost the township about $10,000. He said there at least two interested buyers.

The property, formerly owned by Henry A. Bobulski, has been listed as delinquent since 2000, according to the county treasurer's office. The house was foreclosed because Bobulski owed $12,129 in taxes.

Rhoads said he is now looking at least three other Blendon Township properties in the township that could qualify for the Land Bank Program.

"We're looking at two homes in the Cleveland Heights area and one in the Fox Run area, and I've contacted the treasurer's office to start working on one of those," he said. "Our goal is to never allow houses in the township to get to that state again."