County blight: Some progress along with some frustration

Several blighted properties in Warren County are showing progress, while others seem to be at a standstill.

The Warren County Redevelopment Authority met Tuesday morning to discuss eight properties, including the Wanda Miller, formerly Truver property, which has been on the list since early in 2010.

RDA Solicitor Andrea Stapleford said she had heard of someone who was interested in purchasing the building as well as the neighboring Johnson property, adding that the posting on the land specifically spelled out that alleviating the blight with time restrictions would be a condition to any sale.

Board member Terry Hawk said there were too many unknowns, including Stapleford’s second-hand conversation with someone who told her of a third-party interest. He also noted that the building was a commercial property, and would require asbestos remediation, perhaps too expensive for a purchaser.

She answered, “If that falls through, we have the power to condemn.”

Hawk said they should pursue both options. Board member Jamie Steffan said he would contact the person who provided the information.

Regarding the Emily Hecei property on E. Fifth Avenue in Glade Township, Stapleford said she had spoken with Hecei the day before, and a great deal of work has been accomplished, including a new gas line and a new water pump. Work on the septic system will have to wait for better weather.

Dan Glotz, Warren County planning director, reported progress on 102 Cottage Place which had been purchased by Mark Saullo.

Glotz also said he had heard reports that the building on the Bona property on Front Street in Glade Township had been torn down, and that he would drive by and see for himself.

A fire destroyed the building in January, and Glotz said Saullo had hauled in several loads of dirt to fill the foundation. The authority voted to table any action until its May meeting.

Stapleford said Michelle Hoover, the new owner of the former John Filiatrault II property at 106 Hall St. in Sheffield Township, received a letter from the authority on April 5, but there hasn’t been any response in the last ten days. Steffan said Hoover had been in contact with the township and he agreed to follow up on the matter.

The Tonya Elletson property on Farm Lane in Pleasant Township includes a trailer, and the property it sits on has overdue taxes dating to 2012, according to Stapleford. She said that if the taxes remained unpaid, the land could come up for tax sale in July.

Warren County Chief Clerk Pam Matve said, “I’ll get together with Dan (Glotz) and see what’s been done… and send her another letter.”

Judyth Smith, the owner of the blighted property at 463 Pleasant Dr., said she and her husband David had intended to tear the building down for years, but multiple family medical issues prevented progress.

Smith said that she had been out of town and didn’t return until Sunday, and she began calling contractors on Monday.

Matve asked, “Once you have a contractor, could you call us?” Smith agreed to do so.

Regarding the final property on the list, 819 Cider Mill Hill Rd. owned by Frances Matsock, Matve said she sent her a letter after the RDA’s meeting in March, but she hasn’t had any response.

Glotz noted that old cars on the property had been removed, but “there is still a lot of assorted junk.”

Matve said she would write another letter saying that while the authority had given her until June, they still need to hear from her.

Hawk said he feared the authority would end up with both the Miller and Matsock properties in the long run.

In new business, the Warren County Commissioners agreed to re-budget fiscal year 2012 Community Block Development Grant funds to the authority. Matve made a motion to put $12,197.57 into the demolition fund and $4,000 into the acquisition fund for a total of $16,197.57 for the RDA Removal of Slum and Blight projects. The motion carried unanimously.