Burned home remains thorn in East Palestine’s side

Morning Journal/Deanne Johnson This home on East Main in East Palestine has been vacant since a fire a few years ago.

EAST PALESTINE — The village needs to have more control over what happens to properties that are not sold through county sheriff’s sales, Municipal Attorney David Powers said.

Powers encouraged council at its recent meeting to consider legislation he drafted that would give the village more authority when it comes to properties that are either not sold or are sold but change hands continually and go back into foreclosure and never become productive properties.

At the heart of the issue is 317 E. Main St., which was burned beyond use in years past, declared condemned and then targeted for demolition through the county land bank but was never demolished.

The property went into foreclosure in early 2020 and remains a problem structure for the village. A few other properties are also of concern.

Powers said that if the properties are not sold through sheriff’s sale, or purchased by the land bank or school district then they are sold to the state and sold at the state auditor’s sale in September of each year and sometimes end up purchased by companies that don’t keep them up to par.

Powers explained that the village could acquire the properties before that happens and have more of a say over who purchases them, and place restrictions on what can be done with the property.

“The whole idea behind this law is to revitalize and make properties that are essentially worthless into productive properties again,” he said.

Councilman Alan Cohen pointed out that the reason fines were set high on the vacant property law passed by council last year was to generate money for the village to be able to buy troublesome vacant properties.

The vacant property law was implemented in order to encourage property owners to keep their properties updated or make an effort to sell the property.

“This works hand in glove with that ordinance,” Cohen said of the law suggested by Powers.

In other business, council heard from Village Manager Mark McTrustry regarding what is being considered for the 2021 paving plan.

Included in that plan is the parking lot at the community center, which council members agreed was in need.

The village is currently looking at portions of French Street, Washington Street, Anna Street, Liberty Street; the alley beside the Christian House; the Wheat Hill terminus, and cemetery.

The street department is also planning to make repairs to Concord Street so that it can be on next year’s paving schedule, McTrustry said.

Council also approved the final Fraternal Order of Police bargaining agreement, which includes a 35 cents per hour wage increase for all union members and a 3 percent salary increase for the new corporal position.


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