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More help needed after vacant home razing, reader says

8/22/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

Interesting article on tearing down vacant, abandoned and decaying houses [“Demolition giving neighborhoods new life,” July 25-31, 2013, West Side Leader].

Unfortunately, your suppositions are not always true. In that area of town, very few people are going to buy the vacant lot and very few people are going to maintain the lot. I live at another end of Grand Avenue, and we recently tore down a decaying house. The lot remains a dirt pit. It took several weeks to have the city remove a large, fallen tree branch and level the land. Although everyone knows there are many houses being torn down and the city has other obligations, don’t think it will happen instantly and the lot will be “marvelous” and usable.

Several years ago we tore down the house next to me. I took care of the property for many more years after that. The owner of the house was still listed as the owner of the property, and I maintained it with his approval. Eventually I purchased the lot from him because I got tired of maintaining it and other neighbors telling me I had no right to keep people and trash off of it. Finally, last summer, I fenced it in to keep kids from playing on it. You mention neighbors may maintain the lots or eventually buy them — both of which can be very costly. Vacant lots are reasonable at this time through the city, but you need to think of the ramifications and down-the-line obligations.

When that house was torn down, the city informed me that the lot was not a buildable lot. A buildable lot had to be 50 feet by 100 feet, and this lot was 40 feet by 100 feet. That is something not mentioned in your article. The city’s definition of a buildable lot may have changed in the past eight years, but those lots on Grand are probably not buildable lots. That needs to be explored.

Finally, unfortunately, that section of the city is not a section where new houses will be built and sold, as much as we would like to see that. It is a section which needs good landlords and help and support for the aging homeowners. Getting those houses down is one solution, but the solution often brings other problems that cannot always be solved quickly or effectively.

Kate Kellner, West Akron

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