The rehabilitation of a Greenfield property recently seized in a drug case has been proposed by the village’s city manager, but the important thing, city officials say, is to improve the neighborhood and not allow the property to become a site of illegal activity again.
The South Second Street property was forfeited to the village as part of a plea agreement when the owner was convicted of illegal manufacture of drugs and sentenced to prison.
Late last year, Greenfield Village Council members passed legislation in regard to the property, giving authority to city manager Ron Coffey to dispose of it in the manner thought best. But, the goal is to improve the neighborhood, according to village officials.
A forfeiture specification has to come from a grand jury, which has to hear sufficient evidence to support the forfeit of any type of property, and Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins said, “We only take property if it is proved it was used in the commission of a felony or gained by criminal activity.”
Whatever is seized in a criminal case, aside from money, is sold at auction and proceeds go to law enforcement trust funds. Which trust depends on the agency involved in the seizure. In this case, it is the Greenfield Police Department. The trusts are used to further training and to purchase equipment.
Coffey said at this week’s village council meeting that he’s been in touch with Sharon Bedard of Highland County Habitat for Humanity about the possibility of a rehab project at the property.
“Our main concern regarding this home is that it will not become a drug house again. Habitat for Humanity does rehabilitation projects as well as building new homes,” Coffey said. “They will look at the property and plan to make a proposal to us.”
Greenfield Police Chief Tim Hester said that in his 26 years on the force, he can’t ever remember a property being forfeited in Greenfield. Though he said there have been similar circumstances in the past, this is the first time “all the elements have been in place.”
He said in other instances where a property has been used in the commission of a crime, so much is owed that the interest in the forfeiture is moot, because if a property is worth less than what is owed, they become responsible for the owed amount.
In the case of the Second Street property, there were no liens, Hester said, so anything that comes from the sale will directly benefit law enforcement.
In other business, Coffey said ongoing issues with getting on with the anticipated improvements to Greenfield’s rail spur are becoming resolved.
In recent months, obstacles arose with the title work relating to the filing of documents with Ross and Clinton counties to show that past mortgages have been satisfied and released. Coffey said the documents have been filed in Highland County for some time, but were never filed in the other two counties.
But Coffey reported Wednesday that satisfaction documents have been filed in Highland, Clinton and Ross counties regarding a loan that was paid off in the late 1990s.
“We hope this will satisfy the EDA that all matters relating to clear title have been addressed properly,” Coffey said, adding that the village is also dealing with other issues, such as getting letters from floodplain coordinators in the three counties.
On another matter, Greenfield police are sporting new badges.
Coffey said the style of badge that the department has used for about 30 years “was of a generic stock and is the same worn by many departments.” He said the officers decided to pool their uniform allowance money to design and buy new badges.
The new style is a two-tone oval design that features an imprint of Greenfield City Hall in the center. According to Hester, the new design “better reflects the pride we have of the department and community which we serve.”
Finally, Greening Greater Greenfield’s winter festival known as Blues, Brews and Stews will take place from 7-11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Greenfield Eagles. The event will feature a stew and chili contest, all types of beverages, and a live blues band. There will be a $5 per person cover charge and a portion of the proceeds will help the SPARK! Creative Artspace project that plans to open soon in Greenfield.