Highland County Land Bank Board not renewing contract with HCCAO; discussions on grant applications continue

The Highland County Land Reutilization Corporation Board of Directors voted to transfer land bank administrative duties to the Highland County Department of Economic Development at its meeting on Thursday, February 17.

Following an executive session, Highland County Commissioner Terry Britton decided to refuse to renew the HCLRC’s contract with the Highland County Community Action Organization and to transfer responsibility to the Development Department county economy, according to HCCAO Housing Director Mark Current. The motion was carried unanimously by council members Britton, Randy Mustard, Karen Bridges and Lauren Walker, with commissioner and council member Jeff Duncan absent on Thursday.

Since the land bank’s inception in 2017, she reports to the director of the HCCAO, with Current administering the program and HCCAO’s Beth Allering as fiscal officer.

According to Current, there are plans for an “approximately two-month transition period” during which HCCAO will assist as Highland County Economic Development Director Julie Bolender will assume responsibility.

“We would like to thank HCCAO for all the work they have done over the past few years,” Britton said.

Prior to the executive session, the board spent its regular meeting discussing sites to target for state funding, through Ohio’s Brownfields Remediation Grant Program and Demolition Grant Program. and revitalization.

As previously reported, the board approved a list of six potential projects for the brownfields remediation grant at its Jan. 20 meeting, ahead of the Jan. 31 first-round deadline. Current said Thursday that the list of actual projects for which applications have been submitted has been narrowed down to three – the former Rocky Fork Truck Stop; the mill at East Monroe; and the former Elliott Hotel in Greenfield.

“Two of them we had hoped for, one backed off and the other just didn’t want to do anything there,” Current said.

The three sites for which no application was submitted were the Gross-Feibel building in Hillsboro; the Concord Township School in Sugar Tree Ridge, for which community development block grant funds have already been secured; and the old Berrysville gas station, whose owner was not interested, according to Current.

Current said Bolender and Matt Wagner of TetraTech, the HCLRC consultant, have filed requests for the other three projects for “pre-cleaning things that need to be done, and the actual cleaning will be requested” before the next deadline. in April. .

“By the time these are cleaned up, we’ll be spending most of that million [dollars], is not it ? Current asked Wagner.

“It will be tight,” Wagner said. “We’ll have to see where the numbers come in, especially for Rocky Fork, but the mill and hotel seem to be fairly innocuous so I think it should be just demonstration projects.

“We will have to worry about the street for the hotel and adjoining property but again I think they should be well under budget for these. We are still looking for more, any other sites that meet the criteria.

Linda Klump, a council member for the village of Mowrystown, gave Wagner the address of another potential property, which she said had asbestos cladding, in the village to be targeted. Current said it could likely qualify for either of two state programs.

For the demolition and revitalization grant, Current told council that Walker, who is the code enforcement officer for the city of Hillsboro, and Klump helped him secure memorandum of understanding signatures from landlords. of 22 properties so far.

The 17 properties in the Town of Hillsboro include three on East Walnut Street; two each on North West, Johnson and Wellston streets; and one each on John Street, Josie Avenue, South East Street, Danville Pike, Hill Street, State Route 73, East Main Street, and East South Street. The Village of Mowrystown has five potential properties, including two on North High and Maple Streets and one on Main Street.

The HCLRC has also identified six properties in Lynchburg and three properties in Rocky Fork Lake, all of which still require MOU signings, according to Current. Bolender said Leesburg Mayor Shawn Priest also submitted three properties in the village to them.

“We’re still in the race to get as many as we can by the end of the month,” Current said. “It must be submitted as a single application with multiple projects and be submitted before the end of the day, or at five o’clock, on the 28th [of February].”

Wagner asked if the land bank had obtained demolition quotes for all the properties on the list. Current said “not all,” but that the City of Hillsboro has quotes for their properties. Klump proposed at the meeting to ask the village of Mowrystown to request quotes from contractors they had already selected.

Wagner told the council that another county was “using $10 a foot for the square footage of the house as a methodology to meet its financial obligation,” but he preferred Highland County to have “firm quotes for the job. “, what he said. is “cleaner”.

“We need to get this information as quickly as possible, and yet the best way would be to have a closed auction, but we don’t have time for all of that,” Current said. “I’m just trying to get some sort of quote.”

Walker asked if the HCLRC would select one contractor for all demolition work or if multiple contractors would be hired. Current said it would be “at the land bank’s expense.”

“The quotes I gave you are weak,” Walker said. “After talking to our building manager, we want quotes to bring the sites back ready for construction, which means the quotes are actually going to be several thousand dollars more to make sure they compact where they can build on it.”

On a related topic, Current shared a copy of a “work in progress” version of a subrecipient agreement for the grant, which includes a statement of work for each property.

Walker asked if the council would act on the deal, as she said she wanted to know ahead of the Hillsboro City Council meeting on Thursday night when they were to consider legislation relating to the site demolition request.

“I wish I could include that in our counseling package tonight,” she said.

The council voted to approve the project, with one amendment. In addition to requiring the replacement of cracked or damaged municipal sidewalks, the statement of work will also state that the sidewalks must be “upgraded” in accordance with all applicable laws, such as ADA requirements.

In another discussion, Allering reported a checking account balance of $322,036.92 and told the council that it had recently paid a bill of $2,648 to the state auditor for the 2021 deposit in the system. Hinkle.

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