Commission looks at tackling blight

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2007

The problem of abandoned, burned-out and otherwise unkempt property is a pervasive one in Lawrence County.

Each year both the county and the city of Ironton governments spend thousands of tax dollars to demolish structures that owners do not or will not care for.

The Lawrence County Commission is studying one possible solution for at least part of the problem — a solution that would give them some leverage in dealing with errant property owners.

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Under Ohio law, township trustees and fire chiefs have the right to condemn unkempt property. However, cities and counties may adopt their own resolution that requires insurance companies to withhold a part of insurance settlement monies from property owners until their fire-damaged property is cleaned up.

Alhtough this would not solve every burned out house problem in Lawrence County — some property owners do not carry insurance — it may help with some and solid waste district director Dan Palmer said he is happy to get whatever forms of assistance he can to fight the war on trash.

“I’d like to study this,” Lawrence County Commissioner Doug Malone said. “I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t do it. We do need to look at this. We have so many burnouts.”

Palmer said he spoke with Fayette Township Fire Chief Ryan Vaughn about a burned out house on Monroe Street in Burlington and was told the fire department had no money for demolition; the township trustees told him the same thing.

Palmer said he asked Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization development Director Cindy Anderson if the county had Community Development Block Grant monies available to tear down the mobile home but Anderson said this year’s monies are already spent. That particular house will likely have to wait until next year.

Palmer said the city of Ironton already has such an ordinance.