WILMINGTON — A targeted area in the Clean Up Clinton County initiative is Lumberton near the Clinton and Greene Counties line: Three new foreclosure cases have been filed against Lumberton properties that are tax delinquent and blighted.
Assistant Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Dickman expects it will take a year to go through the foreclosure process on the Lumberton sites, and said there will still be a lot of issues with them to deal with after that.
This past summer, the prosecutor’s office assisted in the transfer to private ownership of a U.S. 68 North property known to many as the former Lumberton Family Restaurant in Lumberton.
In other clean-up action the Clinton County Land Bank, in collaboration with the Clinton County Prosecutor’s Office, has acquired three properties over the past 40 days through a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure proceeding. The properties are located on the 6000 block of State Route 729 across from the Wayne Township Hall, the 200 block of North Mulberry Street in Wilmington, and on the 7000 block of State Route 380 in Chester Township.
The North Mulberry Street property is one Dickman thinks the land bank can renovate, as opposed to demolishing.
A foreclosure case was recently dismissed when the property owner in an unzoned township said it would be easier to pay his taxes than to clean up the property, and so the owner paid their delinquent taxes, said the assistant prosecutor in a Wednesday appointment with Clinton County commissioners.
The prosecutor’s office anticipates the transfers next week of five properties to the land bank and several more throughout the remainder of the year, according to Dickman.
The prosecutor’s office has been working with the Clinton County Building & Zoning Department to prioritize which properties to file zoning violation complaints against. Several owners of blighted properties who received warning letters have worked diligently to begin cleaning those properties, Dickman said.
However, three complaints have been filed on properties located on the 900 block of Shull Road, the 1900 block of U.S. Route 68 North, and on the 9000 block of Routes 22 and 3.
Residents are reminded that in county-zoned areas, complaints for tall grass must be related to a vermin infestation or other health and safety-related reasons. Additionally, all complaints must be in writing.
Meanwhile, local law enforcement and fire departments are making use of some of the acquired properties for training opportunities before the structures are demolished on those properties. With COVID-19 limiting statewide training opportunities, the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office and Wilmington Police Department have been able to engage in training activities at land bank owned properties, said Dickman.
In another collaboration, Clinton County Juvenile Probation Department youth have begun assisting in the cleanup of land bank owned properties before structures on those sites get demolished and the property is sold.
Dickman hopes some of the young people find it a source of pride that they have done something for their community.
Both Dickman and new Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney Andrew T. McCoy think the Clean Up Clinton County campaign is a key factor in why property tax collections in Clinton County are up $1.8 million year-to-date.
After Dickman’s update presentation to commissioners, Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods asked what are some things that are needed at this point to continue carrying out the Clean Up initiative.
McCoy, who was also present, said part of the answer to that question hinges upon what are the commissioners’ priorities for the Clean Up initiative heading into 2021.
Later, McCoy suggested his office provide commissioners with “a menu of options,” which can include the type of activity commissioners may want to focus on next year, along with the local resources that would be needed to pursue the action.
“You can pick and choose,” said McCoy.
Commissioners indicated they liked the “menu” idea, as they approach the season when they will decide the 2021 county budget appropriations.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.