Swancreek Township land bank could claim property

By David J. Coehrs - [email protected]

Owners of parcels from a long-abandoned subdivision project in Swancreek Township can either pay delinquent taxes or lose their properties to a land bank.

Township Board of Trustees Chair Travis Weigel said certified letters requesting the overdue taxes will be sent Friday to 100 owners of parcels in Homewood Park on County Road E. Those owners account for an estimated half of the parcels purchased on the undeveloped wooded lot.

Those who don’t bring the taxes current will forfeit their parcels to a land bank to be formed sometime next year by the township trustees and the Fulton County treasurer’s and prosecutor’s offices.

“We’re reaching out to these owners,” Weigel said. “By the end of the year we’ll know what land will be placed in the land bank.”

The parcels were purchased as long ago as 30 years or more, when the Homewood Park subdivision was being planned. Since then, the acreage has remained untouched. The property tax, which averages to about $8 annually on each delinquent parcel, has accrued over decades.

Parcels surrendered to the land bank can be sold by Swancreek Township over the next 15 years. Part of the profit from each sale could be used to pay off its delinquent property taxes; the remainder would stay in the land bank. After the 15-year period unsold parcels can be auctioned.

County Treasurer Charlene Lee said it hasn’t been determined how the revenue from auctioned parcels would be apportioned.

Also called a land re-utilization program, the land bank is permitted under the Ohio Revised Code. Swancreek Township Fiscal Officer Jo Stultz said the parcel owners lose control of their property once it’s claimed.

“Homewood Park has always been an issue. We want to kind of free that land up,” she said.

It’s likely no effort to collect the taxes was made over the past decades due to the scope of that undertaking, Stultz said. “It’s something that takes a lot of effort, and I don’t think anyone wanted to deal with it. If we don’t do something about it, it will remain the way it is,” she said.

The delinquent owners live throughout the region, Weigel said. The township is simply offering them the chance to keep their property.

Records from the Fulton County Auditor’s Office list the original Homewood Park property owner as Valley Wood Development Corp. The company platted the lot as a subdivision.

By David J. Coehrs

[email protected]

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.