Tuesday, February 24, 2009

City Demo Hearing February 27th

There will be a public hearing on February 27th in the Main Conference Room, First Floor, Business Development and Permit Center, 3300 Central Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio. Anyone may appear at the hearing and present pertinent testimony that may assist the Director of Buildings and Inspections to determine whether or not the buildings do, in fact, constitute a public nuisance and shall be razed.

There are 20 properties on that list. Think about that for a moment. The city is holding a hearing to potentially tear down 20 "nuisance properties". This happens monthly. Now, should all these properties be demolished? Well, some perhaps, such as one severely fire damaged on on the list but many appear to be sound structurally and could be saved. Some of these properties are historic as well.

The list:105 W CLIFTON AV , 217 OAK ST, 2312 GEST ST, 117 GAGE ST, 1404 YARMOUTH AV, 765 RIDGEWAY AV, 855 HUTCHINS AV, 2917 SIDNEY AV, 710 WAYNE ST, 41 WUEST ST, 1621 TREMONT AV, 3051 PERCY AV, 2081 HARKNESS ST,3162 SAFFER ST, 3179 SAFFER ST, 1512 KNOX ST, 1638 PULTE ST, 3759 ANIOTON CT, 2426 COPELEN ST, and 2857 FISCHER PL.

It costs on average 8,000-12,000.00 for the city to demolish a property so we are talking about 160-240, 000.00 dollars of tax payer monies to demo these structures. Is this the best use of taxpayer funds in the middle of a recession? Would not finding a way to save these properties be a more prudent use of taxpayer dollars? Will vacant lot really improve the quality of life of the area?

Its time for a better solution. Many cities maintain and endangered properties website. A property owner whose home is found to have unresolved "issues" has an option to list his home with a realtor and have it placed on the city website with a minimum asking price that would cover any back taxes, fees, realtor commissions and such and may also include a small profit for the owner. The city attaches , with consent of the owner, a protective covenant, that any person buying the property must agree to. Basically that the new buyer will agree to pull permits, begin work with in 90 days and address and critical safely issues within that time and will correct ALL orders against the property within 180 days. On properties with historic significance it can include protective covenants for review by historic commission.

Who wins? Everyone. The property owner is out from under a 'problem', the city now has control over the process and the future home owner knows exactly what is expected. many cities actually offer Facade grants equal to 1/2 the amount they might normally pay to demo the property, giving a prospective home owner a leg up and acting as catalyst for others on the block to improve their homes.
The time has come for all of to take a serious look at protecting our historic properties , not only because it is the right thing to do but because it makes sound economic sense to restore these home and put them back on the tax rolls.

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