Partnerships sought to aid in blight removal

The Warren County Redevelopment Authority received updates on the status of several properties at its meeting Tuesday morning and discussed the possibility of forming partnerships with other local organizations to develop formerly blighted areas.

Potential redevelopment partners discussed included Habitat for Humanity and the Forest-Warren Economic Opportunities Council. Representatives of the authority will be contacting both organizations.

Authority members also discussed the need for municipalities to outline what work is needed to rehabilitate a blighted property, rather than just outlining what qualifies it as blight, when making recommendations for blighted status. The authority has encountered owners willing to rehabilitate their properties, but unsure what work needs done to do so.

According to Authority Solicitor Andrea Stapleford, Wanda Miller, who is the deeded owner of a property at 10 Railroad St. in Clarendon, has agreed to “sign off” on the transfer of the property.

“Wanda is very willing to cooperate,” Stapleford said.

Miller claims the property was transferred to her by former owners Mark and Diane Truver without her knowledge. Miller had shown interest in the property, and even paid back taxes on it once, but took no further action to acquire it. Real estate transfers do not require the signature of the individual receiving the property, only that of the seller.

The authority was updated on efforts to acquire an adjoining property belonging to Joseph Johnson. The acquisition would provide access to the site for equipment needed to demolish a blighted building on the Miller property and would make the site more attractive to potential buyers. The authority has offered to cover back taxes at the site in return for Johnson turning over ownership.

Authority members agreed that if an agreement on the Johnson property could not be reached soon, the authority will pursue a temporary easement to access the Miller property.

The authority has still not heard from the bank on clearing a property at 2393 E. Fifth Ave. in Warren.

The site has known sewage issues and the authority is working to obtain an estimate of repair costs.

In lieu of an agreement to acquire or rehabilitate the property, the authority plans to pursue a conservatorship, which will allow it to assume control of the property through the rehabilitation process. To pursue a conservatorship, the authority must first have a preliminary cost analysis for work at the site.

Owners of properties at 119, 121 and 123 Front St. in Glade Township will be receiving letters from the authority alerting them of what needs to be done to rehabilitate the sites and remove blighted designations.

The three properties, which formerly belonged to Rudolph Manelick, were recently purchased by two individuals. One has set up ‘No Trespassing’ signs, but has taken no further action to alleviate blight.

Stapleford said she spoke with the owner of the Passinger property at 102 Cottage Pl. in Russell and noted, “She’s very willing to sell.”

While there is an individual interested in assuming ownership of the property for money owed on it, Passinger has asked $10,000 for the site.

The site has approximately $4,000 in back taxes and sewer bills and has a bank lien against it. An estimated $3,000 to $4,000 will be required after transfer to demolish the building at the property and alleviate its blighted designation.

Stapleford said she will be contacting Farmers National Bank to see if it will satisfy the mortgage against the property, clearing the lien and sending Passinger a letter outlining the offer to assume ownership and pay back costs. The letter will instruct Passinger to accept the offer or alleviate the blight, otherwise the authority will pursue conservatorship at the site.

John DiPierro attended the authority’s meeting in regards to the Anzietta DiPierro property on Route 6 in Sheffield Township.

DiPierro said he has done some work at the property and provided a letter outlining plans to rehabilitate it.

DiPierro uses the site for storage; it is zoned commercial.

DiPierro said he has removed a garage at the property and has some other repairs planned, but requested a clearer idea of what specific work needs to be done to remove the blighted status.

Authority members decided to contact Sheffield Township, the municipality which originated the blight process on the property, to answer DiPierro’s question.

The authority will then set a time frame in which the rehabilitation work should be completed.

The owner of the John Filiatrault property at 106 Hall St. in Sheffield has expressed a willingness to transfer the property to the authority.

There is currently a $2,000 judgment against the owner, who is incarcerated, related to a criminal proceeding, but no money is currently owed against the property itself.

An interested party has approached the authority in regards to assuming property ownership and rehabilitating the site.

The Jack and Jennifer Hackley property at 101 Hall St. in Sheffield is tentatively schedule for building removal by the end of May.

It was announced while the authority has $31,000 left in 2010 and 2011 Community Development Block Grant funds, it is eroding due to monthly legal fees.