April 21, 2014

Partly sunny

Commissioners to raze 10 more blighted houses

MEDINA — Medina County commissioners are moving to demolish 10 more blighted houses as part of a program funded by a settlement in the federal lawsuit against the nation’s largest mortgage lenders.

Four houses are in Granger Township, two in Lafayette Township, one in Brunswick Hills Township, two in Hinckley Township and one each in the cities of Medina, Brunswick and Wadsworth.

Monday, commissioners unanimously accepted a low bid from Baumann Enterprises of Cleveland of $169,250 to raze the homes.

The latest action brings the total to 26 houses already demolished or slated to be razed with $500,000 in federal money — Medina County’s share of the settlement.

The settlement was reached in February 2012 with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Ally/GMAC.

The lawsuit, filed by the federal government and 49 states, accuses the companies of “robo-signing” — the practice of routinely approving foreclosure documents without checking whether the facts were correct.

The settlement, which provides $25 billion in relief to distressed borrowers and payments to the states and U.S. government, is the largest settlement of its kind since a 1998 settlement with tobacco companies.

Ohio is getting nearly $93 million, with $75 million going to home demolition under the Moving Ohio Forward Grant program.

The program, administered by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, is aimed at helping property owners who otherwise could not afford to tear down dilapidated homes. The property owners only pay a $750 fee.

So far, the county has spent roughly $457,000 of the available grant funds.

Thirteen homes already have been demolished this year, including one Monday in Liverpool Township, and three more are scheduled for the wrecking ball.

Medina County Planning Director Rob Henwood said four of the 10 homes the commissioners approved for demolition Monday could be down by Dec. 31.

Henwood said the program might include three houses on Chippewa Road that Lafayette Township trustees took ownership of in a sheriff’s auction.

He said a dozen other homes in the county are eligible for the program.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.