Sandusky land bank program razing blight

Many of the parcels are tiny. One's just a five-foot sliver of a triangle. The others aren't much more than a few hundred square feet. But these properties -- foreclosed upon because of delinquent taxes -- represent an effort by city officials to improve the city's neighborhoods.
Jason Singer
Dec 30, 2010

Many of the parcels are tiny.

One's just a five-foot sliver of a triangle.

The others aren't much more than a few hundred square feet.

But these properties -- foreclosed upon because of delinquent taxes -- represent an effort by city officials to improve the city's neighborhoods.

In total, the city approved 11 parcels this week -- including the ones mentioned above -- to possibly add to its Land Reutilization Program, better known as the city's "land bank."

"It's a way for us to produce tax-delinquent parcels into something that makes money for us," city planner Carrie Handy said earlier this year.

The city began the land bank in 2007, as a way to battle blighted neighborhoods in the city.

The city has more than 200 vacant houses within its limits, as well as about 90 tax-delinquent properties with liens on them, Handy said.

The city has targeted about 60 homes for its land-bank program, but has only acquired 14, said Amanda Meyers, a paralegal for the city.

Although the city targets dozens of houses, it only acquires them if the city has a specific purpose lined up, Meyers said.

Sometimes, like with 2123 to 2125 E. Forest Drive, acquired earlier this year, the city will sell the lots to Habitat for Humanity.

The city sold those parcels for about $5,500, Meyers said.

In the case of the tiny parcels approved Monday night, the city hopes to give them to adjoining property owners.

That way, residents will have room to add a driveway or increase the size of their yards.

As of now, the city has to spend money cutting the grass at the properties three or four times per year, Meyers said.

That can cost the city as much as $750 per year, Handy said.

Although the city has to forgive delinquent taxes to acquire the properties, Meyers said it pays off in the end.

"If we can get these back on the tax rolls, they will more than pay for themselves," Meyers said.

The city has also demolished dozens of homes this year, mostly using Neighborhood Stabilization Funds.

In specific areas, like on Hancock Street and in the southern portion of the city, the city hopes to demolish older, dilipidated homes and allow Habitat for Humanity to update the housing stock.

Comments

outsider

 Why doesn't Erie Metro Parks buy up all this delinquent land and make mini parks? Heck, the have spent over $500,000 dollars in legal fees trying to take land from someone. I'm sure know one would protest if they converted these eyesores into parks. 

Oh that's right, none of those uppity park board members would set foot in Sandusky.  Believe it or not, Sandusky is in Erie County. Don't tell me you don't work in cities. You just purchased land in the city of Vermilion.

 Sorry,common sense is not a priority for the parks board and administration.

gene44870

The thing that really bothers me is when banks forclose and the city holds the property and then some responsable property owner that is right next door offers to buy and up-date the property to meet houseing codes and is shot down , its a shame, I know of such people , cause they tried to buy the house next door to fix up and rent out , and that have got two propertied all ready and take very good care of

Now the house just sits there drawing rats mice and is a hazard to the houses on either side as well.

the Roff from what I can tell is looking like its about to cave in and the city just comes and cuts the grass only after they are contacted threw the landowners or the health dept ,Now that dont make sense Its been that way for years and the city is planning on tearing down the house , when and if that ever happens , remains to be seen , if the city wants to do something like that fine , but take a good look and see whats in the best intrest of the other residents and stop with your agenda , its only making this town look wearce then it needs to be

FST

I think it is a good idea for the city to come off these small lots. The way I see it is that if there is a lot big enough and nice enough to build a home on,then the city needs to clean it up and sell it off. If the lot is too small to build on then the city needs to split it between the home owners on each side of the lot. Turn over the little slivers to the closest home owner. That way they will have more tax dollars coming in and won`t have to pay somebody to take care of them. City owned empty lots and run down homes is a burdon the city and taxpayers don`t need right now. If Habitat For Humanity can`t use them then get out from under them. They will never draw people and businesses in if the city looks like the getto.

astro

What the city does not understand is people need places to actually build a new house other than the "useless" Cold Creek area, I lived in Sandusky for over 40 years and when it was time I wanted a NEWER home only options you had were out of the city and buy in Perkins like I did. Level a few blocks close to downtown and get all the free loaders on metro and government housing out of the high-rises and junk houses and give the people a place to build somewhere.  It's nice to give the tourist's driving signs to get to the waterfront and they have to pass all the crappy houses we have in this town, no pride of ownership.