The village of Batavia has demolished the house at 610 E. Main St., the abandoned Norfolk Lodge 54, F&AM, as a public nuisance.
Batavia paid Evans Landscaping $6,500 for the demolition. The village paid $600 for an asbestos inspection.
The village offered to take the property in tax forfeiture, but the Clermont County Treasurer’s Office would not release back taxes. Tax arrears on the property are more than $6,800.
The village has tried for years to get the building renovated or removed, but the property was an orphan, with nobody taking ownership.
All the members of Lodge 54 have died, and the lodge is defunct. The organization’s grand lodge offered to take ownership to get the site cleared, but the parent organization would not pay the back taxes on a property in which it had no interest and no liability.
The village tried to negotiate with county officials, but without success, and finally decided to drop the bid for ownership and demolish the building, originally a residence, for public safety. The foundation of the house was collapsing, and Village Administrator Dennis Nichols told council the building attracted vermin and vagrants.
If the village had gotten ownership, a state program would have paid the cost of demolition. Without having ownership rights, the village had to proceed under its authority to abate nuisances, but at village cost.
The village notified several other property owners to clean up or repair buildings, and the owners have complied.
The village and county used the state program to demolish structures at 715 Old State Route 32, 229 W. Glen Ave., 215 Clark St., and 60 N. Market St., and a private owner leveled the house at 225 Clark. The village accepted the property at 241 Clark and sold it for redevelopment. The county has tried to reinstate tax and assessments on that property and on 715 Old SR 32. The village disputes those charges, and the issue may go to court.