Lafayette Township has taken ownership of three blighted houses on Chippewa Road and officials are moving to demolish them.
Township Trustee Lynda Bowers said the houses, which are adjacent to each other at 5790, 5794 and 5796 Chippewa Road, have been a source of aggravation for township residents since she took office in 1998.
“I couldn’t be more pleased that we’re able to do this for our residents now. It’s been a long time coming,” she said. “There will be dancing in the streets.”
Trustees filed paperwork with the Medina County prosecutor’s office to take ownership of the properties that failed to sell at auction Thursday.
Residents say the homes have attracted unwelcome —and possibly illegal — residents.
“How many times has the Sheriff’s Office has been there? Every runaway or drug addict seems to be there,” said Diane Winslow, a former township zoning board member who lives five houses up from the dilapidated structures.
“There’s always a lot of young people there. I would say at this point they’re squatters, or let’s put it this way: They don’t belong there.”
The houses were among the first six submitted for the Moving Ohio Forward demolition grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Two houses in the township already have been demolished under that grant this year. County Planning Services Director Rob Henwood said he has seven projects budgeted with the county’s $500,000, and intends to organize an eighth project comprising these three houses. The program’s original deadline was Dec. 31, but was extended to May 31, 2014. Henwood said he hopes to knock them down before the end of the year.
But first the township had to own them.
Bowers said former owner, Ted Trikilis — CEO of PIE International Inc., the owner of record, according to Medina County Auditor records — made repairs enough to get by until his death in 2009.
After Trikilis’ death, a bank foreclosed on PIE’s properties and the houses were left vacant.
“It’s a total eyesore. I can’t wait to knock those things down. I know the residents will be happy about it,” Trustee Bryon Macron said.
A state land reutilization program allows the township to take ownership of a foreclosed property with more than two years of delinquent taxes owed on it.
County Prosecutor Dean Holman filed for a tax foreclosure on the properties on Nov. 2, 2012. By law, the county must make two attempts to sell the property at auction. The first auction was Sept. 19.
Unlike a regular sheriff’s sale, which requires a minimum bid of two thirds of the appraised value, a tax sale requires that bidding open at the amount of delinquent taxes on the property.
The total appraised value of the houses is about $51,000 according to records on the county auditor’s website. The opening bid for all three properties shows an outstanding tax balance of $24,853.54.
Bowers said about 50 people were present at the auction at the Community Center on the Medina County Fairgrounds, where four tax sales and 40 sheriff’s sales were up for bid.
Nobody placed a bid, but Bowers said the trustees authorized paying up to $30,000 to buy the property.
County Assistant Prosecutor Brian Richter said he notified the court Thursday that the properties failed to sell. The court will notify the township officially by mail and trustees will have 10 days to claim the houses. The deeds will be transferred by court order.
Trustee Nanci Shanley celebrated the board of trustees’ efforts.
“It’s a long time coming, but the timing could not be more perfect since we can tap into the demolition grant funds to take care of razing the structures,” she said. “I am sure our board will take every necessary step to keep this moving forward swiftly.”
Macron gave Bowers special recognition.
“I’d say Lynda’s done 99.6 percent of the groundwork. She’s been working on this for years. We just voted and said ‘Yeah, we all want this done.’ ”
Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.