The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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February 21, 2013

Demolition creates plenty of vacant lots in Conneaut

Administrators will create a list for developers

CONNEAUT — Over the past few years, government funds and grants have helped the city of Conneaut flatten plenty of dilapidated houses and buildings — and more are on the hit list in 2013.

But all that work has created lots of vacant lots, and the city plans to create a list of its available land for potential developers and study by Planning Commission. “We’re going to start generating a list of ideas,” City Manager Tim Eggleston said at a meeting of City Council’s economic development committee Tuesday night.

Some municipally-owned parcels, such as the old Fire Station 2 on Lake Road, occasionally draw interest from developers, Eggleston said. The city’s ambitious demolition program has resulted in a patchwork of empty lots that may offer other opportunities, he said.

“This is land the city will acquire doing demolition work,” Eggleston said. “We need to decide if we want to keep it or dispose of it as quickly as we can. As we are razing houses, we should decide what we can do.”

Depending on the location, the city may be able to combine some lots “to stretch out neighborhoods,” he said.

In the summer, vacant parcels create a burden for the Public Works Department, Eggleston said. “We’re going to be mowing them and tying up our resources,” he said.

Council members like the idea of drawing up a list of available, city-owned land. “We need to get rid of property under-utilized by the city,” said Councilman-at-large Neil LaRusch.

In other business, council learned officials with Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County will be invited to discuss a possible job creation tax credit program to spur development. The program offers tax breaks to businesses that retain or create jobs in the community.

Ward 1 Council Doug Hedrick, economic development committee chairman, said the tax program has merit.

“It’s one more carrot to wave to prospective business,” he said. “We need to get on the fast track. From a competitive standpoint, it puts us in the running.”

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