Thursday, April 23, 2009

Walker Street residents assembling petition for retaining wall assessment

Residents of the properties between 1815 and 1847 Walker Street in Mount Auburn are putting together a petition to submit to Cincinnati City Council outlining how they should be assessed for a retaining wall they say will save their property values.

The retaining wall would correct problems resulting from a 2005 landslide caused by a burst water main at two vacant properties owned by Michael Kelley at 1843 and 1845 Walker Street that damaged decks and sewer lines at seven properties.

Since 2005, the landslide problem has spread to encompass more properties, geotechnical engineers have told the residents that, to fix the landslide problems, any retaining wall would have to be done as one project.

City estimates put the cost of the retaining wall at around $600,000.

Residents get to choose

Under Ohio Revised Code 727.06, the residents of Walker Street have one of two choices on how they will be assessed for the new retaining wall.

The first choice, an assessment initiated by council itself, would assess every resident on both sides of the street an equal share, with the City paying 2 percent of the cost.

The payback period would be five years, and property owners would be able to contest the assessment to a board of revision.

With the second choice, residents would petition council through committee, which would then go to a council vote.

The petition would include a description of the project and the affected area and would require the approval of residents owning 60 percent of the front footage.

Again, the City would pay 2 percent of the project cost, but there would be no limitation on the number of years for payback.

The residents are looking at the second option and trying to get the City to pay more than 2 percent of the project cost.

It's also likely that they'll choose to assess only the owners between 1815 and 1847 Walker Street, the hardest hit properties, to solidify their 60 percent approval.

Property values

In a report to council, city manager Milton Dohoney Jr says that property values along Walker Street are mixed, and that the data doesn't give a clear picture of the landslide's effects.

According to Dohoney:

  • Of the 15 properties affected by the slide, the aggregate purchase value of the properties between 1977 and 2008 is $1.41 million. However, the Hamilton County Auditor's Office lists a current market value of just over $2 million, and increase of 43 percent.
  • The three properties with a purchase price of "zero" have since increased in value to a range of between $84,290 and $98,880.
  • The four properties that decreased in value fell by between 8 percent and 11 percent, and were purchased between 2002 and 2005.
  • Two properties purchased in 2008 show an increase in value of 300 percent.
  • Two properties purchased in 2006 show an increase in value of 0 percent.
  • Of the three properties purchased in 2000, two increased in value from between 21 percent and 33 percent, while the third increased by 108 percent.
  • A property purchased in 1996 has increased in value by 1.4 percent.
"As such, it is difficult to conclude that there is a direct relationship between the landslide and this loss of value; however, as the slide progresses, in a matter of time, damage to more structures may occur," Dohoney says.

Previous reading on BC:
Walker Street retaining wall closer to Council vote (4/8/09)
Resident: 'Please help us save Walker Street' (2/24/09)