August 31, 2014 [Miesha Wilson Headen, The News-Herald]
Richmond Heights has taken the first steps to deal with vacant, blighted residential properties in the city.
At its most recent meeting, City Council approved an agreement with the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp., commonly referred to as the Land Bank.
“The purpose of the Land Bank is to help demolish vacant abandoned homes throughout the city so that we can support our property values,” Mayor Miesha Wilson Headen said.
Headen said that it also would increase safety in the city. Richmond Heights has seen an increase in 2014 of the number of homes broken into, often to steal copper, though the thefts have gone down in recent months following the arrest of a man linked to several break-ins in the city.
Acting Building Commissioner Nino Monaco said that the Land Bank will look at each individual house that has been identified by the city and decide whether it needs to be torn down or rehabbed.
“They haven’t made a commitment to how many, but they’re definitely going to work with us,” he said.
Monaco said demolition notices have been sent out for five houses. All five are owned by banks.
Three of the houses are on Highland Road, one is on Cary Jay Boulevard and one is on Richmond Park West.
“Hopefully the banks that have been notified about these nuisance properties will take the initiative to knock it down themselves, but if not we’ll look at the Land Bank,” he said.
Headen acknowledged the work that Monaco and Economic Development Director Christel Best did to get the deal done with the Land Bank.
“When they both came on board together, they set it as a priority,” Headen said. “With Nino’s experience as a councilman in Mayfield Heights, who has extensive experience with the program, and Christel Best’s experience with her connections over at the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, they were able to expedite the process.”
The Cuyahoga County Land Bank was recently awarded an additional $1.2 million from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency as part of the federal Hardest Hit Fund. The funds bring the Land Bank’s 2014 allocation to $11.3 million, according to a news release.