The state is taking inventory of what they have and has found a few things they aren’t using.
State Treasurer Richard Cordray’s office is working to create a central inventory of state properties. The state has reviewed 20 counties and are currently working to review the remaining 68 counties.
Among the counties reviewed was Fulton County, where there are more than 200 parcels owned by the state. Other counties reviewed include: Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas, Stark, Auglaize, Champaign, Clinton, Delaware, Erie, Fairfield, Geauga, Knox, Lake, Logan, Medina, Ottawa Preble, Seneca and Trumbull.
Those 20 counties were chosen because for a variety of reasons. Holly Hollingsworth, director of media relations with Cordray’s office said the counties were both rural and urban and were representative of the state overall.
“We tried to do a sampling of the different things the state had, looking at rural and urban counties,” said Cordray, adding his office hopes to have the remaining counties completed by spring. “It’s a huge undertaking. We found more than 7,000 parcels in those (first 20) counties that the state owned.
“There is no question that people believe this inventory to be useful, long overdue and needed,” he said.
In Fulton County, there were four sites that may be underused.
“To appearances they may be underused,” said Hollingsworth. “The only thing we can say for sure are they are owned by the state. We need a little more investigation, but they have raised question marks.”
Cordray said that his office is working with the local community to see if those parcels are truly unused.
The sites are:
— a L-shaped parcel at 10601 U.S. 20 in Royalton Township. There is 9.1 acres. The Ohio Department of Transportation pays the tax bill, while the state is named owner. The land is valued at $33,400 by the county auditor’s office.
— a rectangular parcel on Ohio 109 in Pike Township. There is 1.76 acres owned by the state. The turnpike commission pays the tax bill. The land is valued at $8,900.
— a semi-rectangular parcel on Fulton County Road L in Franklin Township. There is 59.11 acres owned by ODOT. ODOT also pays the tax bill. The land is valued at $115,500.
— an irregular parcel on Ohio 66 in Franklin Township. There is 120.7 acres, owned by the state. The tax bill goes to ODOT. The land is valued at $126,400.
A interim report on the inventory stated that the treasurer’s office decided to conduct the inventory because “the State of Ohio owns a great deal of land in locations scattered around the state. Although perspectives may vary, some of that land is certainly unused or under-utilized. Whenever such land is held without any clear plan for its use or development, that situation represents a missed opportunity for the surrounding community and can lead to problems of blight and its attendant negative consequences.”
The report goes on to say that the land may be developed commercially or reclaimed by the community for a park or other public use. However, it may be best for some properties for the state to continue to hold it unused for the time being as infrastructure projects are being developed.
“If those are blighted or truly unused parcels we fell that it should sit there unused if someone has a better idea for it,” said Cordray.
Under a proposal to the governor, a process will then begin to find a use for the area. The office has proposed a 90-day time frame where the state owner of the property must submit a place for its use. At the same time the private sector and community the property is located in may also submit proposals.
Joe Short, a Fulton County commissioner, said the county is already looking at how they could use the parcels.
“What we are doing is actively pursuing alternate sources of energy such as wind power,” he said.
The commissioners recently asked the regional planning department to get a wind map of the county to find the best places to put wind mills. That map was then overlaid with the map of unused/underused state land parcels to see if those sites were viable.
“We’re seeing if those areas will be a good place to put windmills,” he said.
When there are competing proposals for a site, a commission with members appointed by Gov. Ted Strickland will determine which plan would be the best use of the property.
Cordray said he hopes once the entire real estate inventory is complete that it can be put on his website, www.tos.ohio.gov.
By Lisa Nicely
18 February 2007