As Lake County prepares to take down its first home within the next week using grant money from the National Mortgage Settlement, Geauga County is waiting to demolish its 19th home in the coming weeks. Geauga County has several more homes awaiting demolition and is likely to use all of its state grant money before most other counties finish their programs. Photo gallery: House demolition Three weeks ago, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office extended the Moving Ohio Forward program from the end of 2013 to the end of May 2014, giving counties more time to complete demolitions with property owners and contractors. All $75 million in the program comes from the National Mortgage Settlement in 2012, when Ohio and 48 other states were awarded money from the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers. The state allocated $432,734 to Geauga County. County governments usually administer the money for projects, but public opposition to the program tied the county’s hands, County Administrator David Lair said.
“People didn’t want the government paying for the demolitions,” Lair said.
Bainbridge Township took over the administrator role in the summer of 2012, helping other townships demolish homes in their communities for a flat 5 percent fee.
“As of right now, I have about $60,000 not allocated,” said Karen Endres, Bainbridge zoning inspector and administrator of the demolition program for the county.
That means more than 84 percent of the county’s grant has been spent. In comparison, counties statewide had spent a little more than 50 percent three weeks ago when the state extended the program’s deadline. Endres said she doesn’t know when Geauga County’s program might run out of money, but townships looking to demolish a house must soon file a sub-recipient agreement with her office. Endres said her office has been able to demolish 18 houses so far by narrowing down demolition contractors to two and receiving consent from most property owners. “I was just glad Bainbridge saw the need and they’re accepting other townships as well,” said DeAnna Tenney, director of the Chagrin Falls Park Community Center in Bainbridge. Of the 18 homes demolished, 14 were blighted homes scattered around Chagrin Falls Park, a densely populated community of 150 families. Tenney toured the empty lots with Bainbridge Township trustees. Although they are empty lots, the property owners still own the land.
“It puts the property back on the market,” Tenney said. Munson, Newbury, Chardon and Burton townships share the remaining four homes on Geauga’s demolition list.
Endres said one home in Chagrin Falls Park and another on Chillicothe Road are next in line for demolition as the township awaits requests for proposals from the contractor due Monday. Munson and Newbury townships also have demolitions coming up, she said.