New partnership allows companies to clean up blight

YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning County Land Bank transfered blighted properties to a company in Sebring and a company in Goshen Township on Thursday so that cleanups can begin.

Mahoning County Treasurer Dan Yemma and other leaders of the Mahoning County Land Bank joined local government officials including Sebring Mayor James Harp and Goshen Township Trustee Teresa Stratton and two business owners to officially turn over the deeds to the properties to them.

One of the properties is the 18-acre former Royal Sebring China Co., 100 S. 15th Street in Sebring, where Michael Conny, owner of MAC Trailer Manufacturing Inc. of Alliance, has acquired the property, which has been vacant “for decades,” said Debora Flora, executive director of the land bank.

Conny has not revealed a specific plan for how he will use the property, Flora said.

Factory buildings on the site were demolished after a fire in 2010, and it has remained vacant because of significant real estate tax delinquency.

The property, with overgrown weeds and piles of rubble, has been displeasing to village residents, particularly the customers of the Royal Star Diner across the street, Flora said. Residents have sought action from village officials in recent years.

The second project involves five parcels of property encompassing about two acres at 13810 S. Pricetown Road in Goshen Township, across from Witmer’s Feed and Grain that Mike Witmer and Witmer’s Feed and Grain have acquired. Witmer also has not revealed plans for the property.

The Goshen properties were tax-delinquent and included an empty, damaged house.

Township officials lacked the funding to clean up the land, and the house did not meet the parameters of the land bank’s demolition reimbursement award program, Flora said.

This was the first time the lank bank has involved local officials in identifying the person who has the best ability to clean up the property, said Flora.

The message the land bank sent out to local government officials was: “If you can choose someone who has the ability to clean it up, we will transfer it to the at cost,” Flora said.

“We often serve as a pass-through vehicle by acquiring vacant, tax-delinquent properties and transferring them to other entities,” Flora said. “But we’re adding a new twist by working with local governments, who have coordinated the purchasing and clean-up work with private parties.”

She said this approach creates a greater “buy in” from the local community and is expected to creater better outcomes.



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