- Michael D. Pitman Staff Writer
Fairfield Twp. is slated to demolish its first homes this year using the Hardest Hits Funds maintained by Butler County’s land bank.
The four homes are in the township’s Five Points area — a pair on Parkamo, one on Fairfax and one on Pater avenues — and will be demolished once bids are sent out.
It could take a few thousand dollars to demolish each home, according to Fairfield Twp. Administrator Julie Vonderhaar.
And when these homes are gone, it will be the township’s first noticeable sign of its use of the Butler County Land Reutilization Corp., commonly known as the county land bank.
“We’re taking blighted properties out of the community,” said Vonderhaar. “When you remove the blight, that improves the community, it improves home values.”
The properties are owned by the Fairfield Twp. Community Improvement Corporation.
CIC board member and Fairfield Twp. Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer said this is a big reason why the CIC was formed and the township joined the land bank.
“The intent of land banking is to get rid of the blighted nuisance properties, so we can knock those down and put something else in its place,” said Hartkemeyer. “It just helps to decrease the blight in some of the neighborhoods, so it’s a good thing for everyone.”
Vonderhaar said there are a couple of other homes that could be eligible for demolition to be paid with by the Hardest Hit Funds, which is federal money maintained by the state.
Land bank Executive Director Mike McNamara said the Hardest Hit Fund for Butler County works as a reimbursement program for blight elimination.
The county has been awarded a total of $4.3 million to operate the program, and communities pay an upfront deposit. Money is used from that deposit to demolish blight, and at the end of the program nearly all of the deposit funds will be returned. Fairfield Twp.’s deposit is $200,000.
And blight elimination in the county works, said McNamara.
“We did a study with Miami University that was published last year and it indicated we’re having a positive effect on property values in the communities where we’re active,” he said. The study also indicated there’s also a reduction in foreclosures in those communities.
There are 13 communities that are members of the Butler County land bank. Fairfield is set to join the land bank in November.