Flood-damaged homes destined to be demolished in Franklin will stay standing for a few more months.
The city has one more legal step to take before the properties can be bulldozed, which means an early-spring demolition is unlikely.
During the past six years, the city has worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to demolish 66 houses in the floodplain of downtown Franklin. Early this month, the city was shooting for an April 1 deadline for demolition of the four houses remaining. A purchase agreement for the houses was signed by members of the city and the Franklin Development Corp. this month.
This week, it turns out the houses will stay standing for a few months more. The purchase agreement had to be amended to include one extra step before officially selling the properties to the city.
The final four houses, at 149 W. South St., 149 Pitt St., 467 Hemphill St. and 468 Hemphill St., are owned by the Franklin Development Corp. The agency purchased the homes in October 2013, since the city had trouble buying the homes on its own.
One of the homeowners had died, two others moved out of state and could not be reached, and the last home was owned by a mortgage company that did not want to sell.
Once the properties were included in the county’s tax sale for unpaid taxes, the development corporation purchased all four and planned to sell them to the city. The city could not purchase the properties at a tax sale with grant money.
But in order to use grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to purchase the homes from the development agency, the city needs to get title insurance on the four parcels, Franklin senior planner Joanna Myers said. Some paperwork must be filed and approved in the county court system.
The process could take up to 60 days, so Myers filed for one last extension with FEMA. If the extension is approved, the city will have until Dec. 31 to use the grant money to demolish the houses.
“When I spoke to (Indiana Department of Homeland Security), they indicated there were other communities under the same disaster that are also needing an extension,” Myers said.
“Since that disaster was the largest that Indiana has incurred — ever — they’re hopeful that FEMA will acknowledge that, and since we’re so close to the end, that they will grant that extension.”