Questions arose during a March 4 Franklin Township Trustee meeting after news that Franklin County had applied for a grant to tear down 21 homes in the flood-prone Whims Ditch community.
The $3.08 million hazard mitigation grant through the Ohio Emergency Management Agency had been discussed over the last two months and a final decision to apply was made on Feb. 18, said County Administrator Don L. Brown.
Approval of the grant could take several months, however if awarded, Brown said he would expect to appraise and negotiate sales and begin demolition within two years.
Residents are not required to take the buy-out, explained Brown. However, if residents to choose to stay it will be at their own risk, he said.
The area will be returned to its natural state, creating the possibility of flooding, said Brown.
Under the Water Quality Partnership, the Brown Road East portion of the Water Quality Partnership project is anticipated to get underway later this year.
Once funding is approved, sanitary sewers are scheduled to be installed, which would alleviate the problem of contaminated water overflowing from leech beds, explained Chairman Timothy Guyton.
In order to receive the grant, a $775,000 match is required by Franklin County, Columbus and private landowners.
Franklin County and Columbus will each contribute $150,000. In addition, Franklin County will also provide the in-kind engineering and legal services and conduct the legal work on the property acquisitions which totals an additional $81,000 in services that count towards the contribution, Brown said.
Inland Products is one of the private landowner contributors, he added, although the amount of the contribution was not disclosed.
In addition to the required match to receive the grant, Franklin County will also assume maintenance responsibility of the area once the land is acquired.
During the trustee meeting, residents expressed concern over the future of Hart Road, an east-west connector.
Brown said Hart Road would remain open.
Chairman Timothy Guyton was surprised by the news of the grant.
“I was disappointed the Franklin County Commissioners did not inform us before we got the news,” said Guyton during the trustee meeting.
Brown said there was no reason the trustees were not notified.
“Tim’s a great colleague. We’ve worked with him on a number of projects in the past. We didn’t think he’d be surprised,” said Brown.
Since then, Guyton has been informed of the plan and its implementation and is “on-board” with the project, Brown said.
I “absolutely support it,” said Guyton.
“The grant money will go a long way to alleviating the situation with those specific homes,” he added.
Guyton said the trustees would not try to influence residents as to whether or not they should accept the buy-out.
“It’s a personal decision on the part of the homeowner whether they stay or go,” he said.