UNION TOWNSHIP — An attorney who helps enforce a countywide program dealing with blighted and tax-delinquent properties, reported on positive changes brought about via “Clean Up Clinton County” during its two-plus years.
Clinton County Assistant Prosecutor Justin Dickman was the main speaker Thursday at a county engineer’s steak fry for Clinton County township trustees and fiscal officers held at McCoy Place, in conjunction with a trustees association’s quarterly business meeting.
One of the first properties worked on after Clean Up Clinton County was launched was a “burned-out meth [methamphetamine] house” in the Westboro area where there was a family and kids living next door, said Dickman.
The local Land Bank acquired the property and gave Dickman and the county the authority to make an agreement with the neighbors to demolish the house and remove all trash and debris on the site, with the family obtaining the property in southern Clinton County for a dollar, he said.
The Clinton County Land Re-utilization Corporation (“Land Bank”) was established in 2016 with a mission to clean up blighted properties throughout Clinton County and return them to productive use, while the Clean Up Clinton County program began in early 2020.
Continuing his talk Dickman said he and his colleagues were also able to negotiate a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure with the owners of a property near the Warren County line. His understanding is that there were coyotes there which were chasing neighborhood dogs.
The property was sold as part of a Land Bank process and now a house sits on the land whereas beforehand the location was saddled with $15,000 in back taxes, he said.
The former Lumberton restaurant on U.S. Route 68 not far from Greene County likewise is an example of a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure acquisition. Working with a neighboring property owner who has done a lot of work on the structure, there now is a more inviting entrance-way to Clinton County from Greene County than before, remarked Dickman.
In addition, there’s a property off State Route 380 near Caesar Creek State Park that had been “overgrown” and in a pretty nice residential area, said the attorney. It’s been cleaned up and now it’s going to have a vacation rental place-to-stay with a $300,000 property value, he added.
Besides that, the owner of a structure and property across the road from Wayne Township Hall deeded it over, and the building has been demolished and Dickman said the plans are to sell it on the private market.
Meanwhile an expedited Board of Revision foreclosure process has been used in tackling the Lumberton Junkyard grounds where two houses and a trailer have been razed.
“There was actually somebody living in a shed there. We allowed him time to find a place to live; we didn’t want to send him out on the street. He worked with us and it was a positive experience for everyone,” said Dickman.
More than 25 properties have been acquired through Board of Revision foreclosures since the start of Clean Up Clinton County in early 2020. As for conveyances involving a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, there have been 30-plus of those during the same time period.
Nearly every community in Clinton County has had an instance of a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure during the clean-up program, Dickman reported.
The Land Bank started ramping up sales last December, and since then over 15 properties have sold, with an estimated $400,000-plus in sales. New construction is expected on at least some of those properties.
Clinton Co. Local Roads Safety Plan
On another topic from another speaker, Clinton County Deputy Engineer Adam Fricke talked about the Clinton County Local Roads Safety Plan.
He said consultants have combed through data and the conclusion is that four types of crashes are prevalent among the specific crash types occurring on what’s designated as local roadways in Clinton County. Those local roadways include county roads, township roads and municipal streets, but not state and federal routes or Interstate-71.
The four types of crashes involve: distracted drivers; speed; young drivers; or running-off-the-road.
“And the run-off-the-road [type of crash] is kind of a symptom of the speed and the young drivers and being distracted,” commented Fricke.
Those four crash types, he said, amount to about 90 percent of the crashes on those local roads mentioned above.
A final draft plan, with recommendations, is expected in about three months.
Fricke said he hopes people who have an interest in safety can figure out a way or ways to partner together “to bring some education or enforcement or something to help with these specific crash types that are over-represented and highly prevalent” on these particular roadways in Clinton County.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.