County Looks To Demolish Empty Properties

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The county may be receiving more state money to demolish one or more buildings in Vinton County, continuing efforts to improve the safety and health of local villages.

Nearly $50,000 was given to the county in 2012 toward removing vacant properties, according to the development office, with extra money promised to counties in need of further help. Vinton County is slated to receive $7,800 more, a sum approved by county commissioners at their March 10 meeting.

The figure is not a straightforward grant; the county must go through with a demolition project and can receive up to $7,800 in reimbursement, said Development Director Terri Fetherolf.

This money comes from Attorney General Mike DeWine's "Moving Ohio Forward" program, which has given $75 million throughout the state toward helping with demolitions. The program only targets residential structures, ones that have been used to house residents at some point.

The key, Fetherolf said, is to help shape the look of a community and possibly improve property values.

"They encouraged us to look at the higher population density," she said. "It's to make a noticeable difference in the neighborhood."

Potential criminal activity or health issues also factor into whether a building should be a target for demolition. Also, because the program does not necessarily target foreclosed properties, Moving Ohio Forward allows for voluntary demolitions if the owner approves it.

Some properties already removed in Vinton County through this program include houses on Main Street and Mill Street in McArthur as well as another on Wolf Hill Road. A similar project years before removed several buildings in Hamden that had been used as apartments.

"We had some scattered sites that people on that street benefitted from having those properties taken down," Fetherolf said. "We bundled two or three (together) to be able to demolish them."

For now, the development office will be checking throughout the county to see if there is another property (or perhaps two, if they are nearby one another) worth taking down within the $7,800 budgeted toward demolition. Any abandoned properties in the countryside and rural areas of the county, however, are most likely safe from the wrecking ball.

"They (rural homes) are not having an impact on the visible looks of the neighborhood, let alone the property values," Fetherolf said.