Middletown to restart selling vacant side lots to property owners

Property owners in Middletown who have vacant lots adjacent to their own will have the opportunity to purchase them starting July 1.

Middletown previously had a program to allow adjacent property owners or nonprofits to purchase these lots that the city was maintaining for $500 to cover the transfer and other legal fees. Many times, the adjacent property owner took over care of the lot, according to Acting City Manager Susan Cohen.

She said the transfer amount could be higher if there are past assessments for mowing by the city that could be recouped.

“By and large these properties are not big enough to build a home,” Cohen told Middletown City Council last week.

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Cohen said Middletown stopped selling vacant lots in 2018 as it was working on the completion of an updated housing plan.

Cohen said the program is “first come, first serve,” and already has more than 50 letters of interest to purchase lots when the city resumed the program. She said those residents would have the right of first refusal as they have a letter of interest on file. In addition, Cohen plans to do targeted reaching out on some of the properties.

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Cohen said the new program rules would include multiple rules:

  • Disposition must be to adjacent property owner or non-profit agency.
  • Requester must have no delinquent fees or taxes owed to the city.
  • Requester must have no outstanding civil penalties or property maintenance violations.
  • Proposed use must be consistent with building and zoning regulations.
  • Transfer must be consistent with the Housing Plan passed by City Council.
  • Price of the lot will be the higher of: $500 or the cost incurred by the city, but not reimbursed to maintain the property for the past two years.
  • To satisfy two adjacent property owners, the parcel may be split at the city's discretion.

Councilman Talbott Moon said he “wants to make sure staff knows the properties being disposed of are not of strategic interest to the city.”

CARES Act resolutions

Council approved several emergency resolutions to apply for grants available through the CARES Act. It also required the city to create accounts to receive the grants.

The city will seek:


  • A $702,000 grant for the city's transit budget to assist in recovering from lost fare revenue due to the pandemic and assist the Butler County Transit Authority in making local match contributions for Middletown Transit Service contracted services that are also unavailable due to consequences from COVID-19.
  • To designate the acting city manager as the city's authorized agent to execute the agreement with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency for COVID-19 public assistance programs.
  • To receive federal COVID-19 funding that is being disbursed by the state of Ohio and to create a Local Coronavirus Relief Fund in the city budget.

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