TWINSBURG TOWNSHIP — After a handful of public meetings over the last three months, Trustees are edging closer to adopting a revised disposal policy for township-owned lots in the Heights neighborhood.

Trustees could address the issue again at their Wednesday, March 20 regular meeting. The most recent public forum took place March 6, when Township Manager Rob Kagler discussed options for disposing of the lots.

Over the years, the township has acquired 156 lots in the neighborhood, including 71 via fee simple purchase, 71 via delinquent tax foreclosures and 14 via other methods.

So far, 18 of the lots have been sold, 14 are being held for public purposes and 124 are available. The township has compiled a list of the parcels and their statuses, and is finishing up a list of values, revenues and expenses associated with the lots.

"The goal of what we’re trying to do is to be out of the private property business," said Kagler. "We want to put these lots into private hands to generate taxes."

"We have been listening to residents, and are trying to nail down this policy so we can begin offering these lots to adjacent Heights homeowners and others who want to acquire them," said Trustee James Balogh.

The lot disposal policy has not been finalized, as Trustees are still listening to input from residents. It is hoped that final revisions to the draft will be made soon so Trustees can consider adoption of the policy.

At that point, Trustees plan to discuss possible zoning amendments regarding two-car garages on properties and alternate uses for isolated 40-foot wide lots.

A couple of recent revisions to the draft include adding a mission statement regarding support of neighborhood improvement and property value stabilization, and clarifying a purpose statement to describe two classes of parcels included in the program.

Those classes are delinquent tax foreclosure acquisition (required inclusion) and fee simple and other acquisition (voluntary inclusion).

The policy also addresses sale conditions and restrictions, including removing automatic annual escalating prices for lots, adding Trustees’ ability to adjust prices as necessary, adding deed restrictions regarding consolidation and adjusting notice and cure periods.

The draft now sets the sale price for any land-banked 40-foot wide side lot at $3,750, and for a double (80 feet wide) or triple (120 feet wide) lot at $7,500 per single lot. The previous draft had allowed the double or triple lot prices to escalate to $10,000 by 2023.

In response to one resident’s concerns about the lot sale price amounts, Kagler said the township will take the input into account to see if something more amenable can be adopted.

Another important proposed revision is prohibiting construction of new homes on single (40-foot wide) lots, thus restricting construction of new homes to double or triple lots.

Eligibility requirements to acquire land-banked side lots also are spelled out in the policy, and Kagler said they are more lenient than Summit County’s requirements.

In response to a resident’s plea that the township not allow more Habitat for Humanity homes to be built in the neighborhood, Kagler said that is a way to provide more market rate housing, for which there is a high demand.

"We believe we have more than our fair share of subsidized housing," he said.

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400, ext. 4189 or klahmers@recordpub.com.