Commissioners focused on land reutilization


In an attempt to make abandoned, vacant or tax-foreclosed property productive again, Delaware County Commissioners unanimously approved designating the Delaware County Land Reutilization Corporation as the agency assigned to reclaim said properties for the purpose of rehabilitation and reutilization.

Jon Peterson, Delaware County treasurer, has been in discussions with county commissioners over the past year about the formation of the corporation.

The treasurer first approached the commissioners in May 2016 on the benefits of creating a land reutilization corporation. At that time, Delaware County was one of several counties in the state without such a corporation. Peterson told commissioners that land reutilization corporations reclaim, rehabilitate and reutilize nonproductive land.

Peterson said at that time that legislation authorized all counties in the state to create such corporations following the formation and success of the first county land bank in Cuyahoga County.

“It’s an attempt to take properties that are abandoned and return them to productive use,” he told commissioners in a January meeting. “Ohio is a leader in reutilization efforts.”

Commissioners approved the adoption and implementation of the Delaware County Land Reutilization Corporation Jan. 28, 2017, making Delaware County the 50th county in the state to form a land reutilization corporation.

Peterson said last month he was directed by the commissioners to file a request for articles of incorporation with the secretary of state.

“We did receive those articles of incorporation last week,” he said.

Peterson said if commissioners approved the resolution, it would give the corporation the authority to act on behalf of the county under Chapter 5722 of the Ohio Revised Code. He said the next “big step” would be for the newly formed board to determine the rules and regulations, establish an ethics policy, and coordinate a plan with the county that charted the responsibilities of the corporation.

“I believe the statues say that we shall act upon that in the first meeting,” he told commissioners. “So, we’ll have business right away.”

Commissioner Barb Lewis said she thought the corporation was going to be a valuable tool for foreclosures and turning around properties that are abandoned.

“We are now able to receive demolition money from the federal government,” Peterson said. “We’ve missed two rounds.”

Peterson said there were several small properties that the corporation could take a look at and determine a direction of either rehabilitation, renovation or demolition for each.

“The case that I have in mind, demolition would probably be appropriate,” he said. “Then it could be put back on the market and whoever purchased it would start paying taxes again. That’s the underlying purposes of what we do.”

Commissioner Gary Merrell said he thought the corporation put the county in a position that keeps it from dealing with the issues that other counties are currently dealing with.

“We probably don’t have as big an issue here today,” he said. “We don’t want it to become an issue.”

Peterson said statutorily the corporation’s board would consist of two county commissioners, the county treasurer, a representative from the county’s largest municipality, and a representative from a township that is greater in population than 10,000. The representative of the municipality would represent all municipalities, and the representative from the township would likewise represent all townships.

Peterson told commissioners in January that in the beginning, he anticipated that he would handle the administrative work, but the board had the option of hiring an executive director.

Peterson added the corporation would be funded by the delinquent tax fund that is set aside by the treasurer to collect delinquent taxes.

By D. Anthony Botkin

[email protected]

Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.

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