Council seeks power from state legislature to more quickly take over abandoned properties, reverse blight

February 02, 2010

Taking a cue from its northern neighbors, Akron City Council is taking a step toward dramatically reducing blight that foreclosures have caused in the city and Summit County.

Council Monday night passed a resolution urging the Ohio Legislature to make it easier for Akron and the county to more quickly acquire abandoned, foreclosed properties for rehabilitation and neighborhood beautification.

Pending before the legislature is House Bill 313, which will authorize counties with populations of 100,000 people or more to form county land reutilization corporations (CLRCs) with powers to seize abandoned properties within 45 days. Currently, the process to acquire abandoned foreclosed property can take eight months to a year.

"Right now, you can have a foreclosed property that can sit empty and available for vandalism and criminal activity and it could take up to a year - or sometimes more - to do anything about it," said Council's Economic Development and Job Creation Committee Chair Linda Omobien, who introduced the legislation. "I hope we can achieve what's happened in Cuyahoga County, where its county land reutilization corporation can take control of a property in 45 days."

The Cuyahoga County CLRC was formed to help return vacant and abandoned properties to productive use. Salvageable properties are either rehabilitated by the county or sold to qualified private rehabbers. Structures beyond repair are demolished and the vacant land is re-used in any number of ways. For example, unbuildable land may be sold to an adjoining neighbor at a special low price for use as a side lot.

Omobien (At Large) said that if the measure passes, Akron and Summit County Councils will form a CLRC, made up of representatives from the city and county, similar to the structure of Cuyahoga County's body.

"We look to the county to the North and its expedited process to take ownership of properties and do what is necessary to prevent blight," she said. "The real key is to expedite the process to get these properties and bring some stabilization back to our neighborhoods that have been ravaged by foreclosures."