City begins eminent domain process

75 Cedar Street.

754 Fourth Avenue.

GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commission voted Tuesday to begin acquiring pieces of neglected property within city limits.

Properties within the city limits at 754 Fourth Ave. and 75 Cedar St. have been the target of city commission discussion over the past few weeks as city officials move to take more stringent actions in prompting city residents to better maintain dilapidated properties.

City Manager Gene Greene, Code Enforcement Officer Brett Bostic and City Solicitor Adam Salisbury have been meeting bimonthly in attempts to discuss new legislation, enforcement techniques and strategies in how to better handle code and building cleanup.

“We’ll keep talking about how to refine our approach to this eminent domain thing that we’re starting. We’ve got two resolutions for tonight for 754 Fourth Ave. and 75 Cedar St. to begin the eminent domain process for those two properties. We (Greene, Bostic and Salisbury) talked at our meeting about how we can best identify which properties are going to be presented to you guys (the commission) for eminent domain proceedings,” Salisbury said. “What makes a property a good candidate for eminent domain? We plan to evaluate each property on a case-by-case basis, if a property can be rehabilitated without going into too much of a financial mess, to try and determine what it’s worth after (rehabilitation) is done. We’ll look at different ownership situations. Sometimes we can get in contact with them and sometimes we can’t. Each property is different.”

Jay Cremeens was the only city commission member absent for the vote. All members voted in favor of a resolution stating the city’s “intent to appropriate real property” known as the respective properties at targeted addresses on Cedar Street and Fourth Avenue.

Salisbury noted with the “intent to appropriate” resolutions, the city had to publish the intent for three weeks in local media as per law. The intent allows the city to inspect the discussed properties and determine their worth through appraisal methods. Once that has happened, the city will determine whether to file a suit in common pleas court to enact eminent domain action.

Salisbury noted the city would take the least expensive route in its attempt to rehabilitate properties, especially if buildings needed special attention such as “asbestos removal.”

“This is a last-resort option. We don’t wish to incur a huge expense to the city and we’ll try to work with the owners of the properties,” Salisbury said. He said city officials encourage the property holders to work with the city in attempts to “abate property nuisances.”

Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 464-2342, Ext. 2103.