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Youngstown property owners making repairs or paying for demos



Published: Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 12:08 a.m.

SEE ALSO: Council will vote Wednesday on proposed $167.8M budget

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Working with the owners of condemned structures and those in need of improvements has led to results, city officials say.

The city last year inspected 1,704 properties that had various code violations — some so bad that they needed to be demolished — while others had exterior damage, said Maureen O’Neil, the city’s neighborhood improvement coordinator.

Of that number, 613 made the needed repairs to their homes, and 123 others paid to have the structures demolished, she said.

“It’s a matter of educating people and giving them time and assistance to comply with our codes,” O’Neil said.

The city is continuing to focus on homeowner demolitions with five done so far this year and demolition permits given to 37 other homeowners to take down their structures during the next two months, said DeMaine Kitchen, the mayor’s chief of staff/ secretary. The expectation is that several more will agree to demolish their own properties, he said.

In comparison, there were 68 private demolitions in 2011.

On average, it costs the city about $7,500 to have a contractor demolish a residential structure because of federal regulations that require communities to test properties for asbestos before taking them down, Kitchen said.

But the cost is about half for a property owner for demolition because they don’t have to follow those same, strict federal regulations, and the city pays none of that cost, he said.

Those who have properties that can be saved but aren’t responding to letters from the property maintenance appeals board are being sent to hearings in front of attorneys in the city prosecutor’s office, O’Neil said.

Since August 2012, 121 cases have gone through prosecutor hearings with 37 in compliance, 47 working toward compliance, 11 taken down through private demolitions, 10 referred to the appeals board, five charged criminally and 11 others with pending criminal charges, O’Neil said.

Mayor Charles Sammarone set a goal of demolishing 1,000 homes this year. About 1,070 need to be demolished quickly among the 4,000 to 5,000 vacant houses in the city.

To date, 121 have been demolished with 177 more coming down in the next two months.

The city may fall short of Sammarone’s goal this year because it could run out of money, Kitchen said.

“Our goal is 1,000, but we’ll do as many as we can with the money we have,” he said.

There were 412 houses demolished last year and 304 in 2011.


Comments

1Ianacek(909 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

The City can take no credit for an increase in home renovation & private demolition . This is caused by an uplift in real estate investment nationwide in 2012 . A more diversified & modern economy in the Valley helps this .

Progressive cities have positive numeric goals for new amenities & improvements . Youngstown has only 1 - number of demolitions. It's other main goal in recent years has been tax increases . Blighted houses are the symptom of the problem , not the cause. Remove the policy blockages , alow land values to recover & the blight will take care of itself without wasting public money .

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2uselesseater(229 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

Retarded situation by all involved.

This article only makes mention of 1704 empty and problem properties. That number is offensively low and doesn't show the real picture of what empty and blighted inventory really is.

According to 2010 numbers, there were 4500 problem properties.

Add to that this reality:
"The county lost 3,678 people between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2012, according to census estimates."

Losing roughly 1500 residences should yield at least 1200 empty homes.

The out migration from Youngstown of sane people looking to escape the income taxation, crime and corruption also continues. Meaning probably 700+ structures enter the chronically empty category every year.

To keep up with the past inventory overdue for demolition and the new growing wave of abandoned properties, the City needs to maintain at minimum 700+ demolitions every year.

What's the worst part of all of this? There is no end in sight. No evident bottoming out of the flight from Youngstown. Add to the future concerns all the students un-enrolled from the Ytown City Schools and add them to the group of less likely to reside in the City.

The City needs to get land use in check too. Tearing them down is a start, but leaving rubble buried under a thin skin of soil means the property is unusable in the future without massive excavation costs. The demolitions should have to clear all materials and get them off of and out of the land and transported elsewhere.

The city in earnest should restart/partner with/etc. material reuse facilities. Recycling should be mandatory of all the materials, not just the copper and aluminum the scrappers around here are versed in.

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