Middletown buying more blighted properties for demolition

Middletown on Tuesday approved an additional $150,000 to purchase blighted property for demolition as the deadline looms toward the possibility of losing federal funding.

The Journal-News reported last week that Butler County has until mid-December to spend nearly $1 million tearing down eyesores in Hamilton and Middletown, or the federal funds will be lost.

The county was awarded $4.3 million in Neighborhood Initiative Program, monies, a Hardest Hit Fund program designed to help prevent foreclosures and stabilize local property values through the demolition of vacant and blighted homes across the state.

As of early October, Middletown has been reimbursed $277,214 for the demolition of 21 homes with another 14 demolitions pending approval.

On Tuesday, Middletown City Council approved additional funding so the city could meet a Nov. 27 deadline to procure properties through the Neighborhood Initiative Program.

According to City Manager Doug Adkins, the NIP grant allows the demolition of blighted property in selected neighborhoods. While the bulk of the program is geared towards using expedited foreclosure to seize tax delinquent land, there is a provision that allows donations and/or purchase of blighted residential property for demolition, he said.

In a report to council, Adkins said the funds would be used to purchase property less than $25,000 in value for future demolition under the NIP program.

At its June 19 meeting, council authorized a similar amount to purchase those blighted properties. Adkins said those funds have been expended and additional funds are needed if council wishes to continue purchase of poor quality housing for demolition.

Membership in the Butler County land bank includes: the cities of Fairfield, Hamilton, Middletown, Seven Mile and Trenton as well as Fairfield, Hanover, Lemon, Liberty, Madison, Oxford, Ross, St. Clair and Wayne townships.

This article contains previous reporting by staff writer Denise G. Callahan.

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