Problem properties in line for new start

Three Franklin homes and two vacant lots that are abandoned, overgrown or rundown and have years’ worth of unpaid taxes could get new life by next summer.

City officials want to take abandoned homes or empty lots around downtown Franklin and give them to local nonprofits that can revive them or build on them to bring in new residents, according to Franklin community development specialist Rhoni Oliver.

The sites have racked up thousands of dollars in back taxes or annual fees that property owners haven’t paid, and no one is keeping the properties up to a livable standard, she said.

Vacant lots on Ott Street and Cincinnati Street and a home in the 300 block of Kentucky Street are the properties that Oliver is targeting now, she said. She also wants the city to consider acquiring two more homes on Madison and Adams streets, she said.

The goal would be for the city to get the properties for free and then donate them to a local nonprofit.

Oliver hopes that the city can acquire the five properties from the county, since they have gone unsold through multiple tax sales, where people can purchase abandoned properties with unpaid taxes. Taxes owed on the properties range from $2,254 to $41,223. Before anyone can purchase a property, the buyer would have to pay back those taxes in addition to buying the home or lot, Oliver said.

Instead, Oliver wants the city and county to reach an agreement similar to what was done with dilapidated silos in Edinburgh last year. Commissioners agreed to forgive $22,500 in back taxes and gave the property to the town of Edinburgh.

The five properties Franklin is considering did not sell at the most recent tax sale in October. The earliest the county commissioners could agree to give the properties to the city would be late winter, Oliver said.

First, the county would have to hand over the homes or lots to the city of Franklin, and property owners would have 120 days to pay the taxes. If they don’t pay, then the properties can be given away to local nonprofits by summertime, Oliver said.

An organization like Habitat for Humanity could use the vacant lots to build new homes for families, while other organizations, such as the Franklin Development Corp., could fix up an abandoned home and sell it, Oliver said.

The goal is to revive all of the properties and attract residents who would live in, maintain and pay taxes on the homes, she said.

Currently, the five properties waste city and county resources, from city employees having to maintain the grounds to police protection, since they’re at risk for vandalism or break-ins, she said.

“In the end, it just saves a lot of resources,” Oliver said.