Brookfield trustees hired Sereday’s of Masury on Monday, March 11, to knock down a vacant house at 8072 Wheeler St. on the West Hill.

Sereday’s bid, $3,000, was the lowest of three.

The contract was awarded contingent on Sereday’s agreeing to fill in the basement – the company’s quote did not specify that it would – and Fiscal Officer Dena McMullin certifying that the money is available.

It’s been a number of years since the township tore down a property. Typically, officials ask the Trumbull County Land Bank to foreclose on properties for unpaid taxes, and the land bank tears down structures or sells them for rehabilitation. The amount of taxes owed on this property is $27, only $13 of which is considered delinquent, and is below the threshold that the land bank will pursue, said township Code Enforcement Officer Jimmy Ewing.

The property is listed as being owned by Earl Sweeney Sr., but Sweeney died in 2017 and Ewing said he can find no record that the property ever went through probate court.

The trustees said they will place a lien against the property for the cost of demolition, boarding up the house, conducting a title search, advertising the trustee’s notice that the house is unfit for habitation and obtaining a demolition permit, if Trumbull County does not waive that fee.

Ewing noted that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency told him it will not require the township to perform an asbestos evaluation of the house.

In addition to the trustees, the Trumbull County Board of Health has declared the structure unfit for habitation, and the fire department has deemed it a fire hazard, officials said.

“It was just an accident waiting to happen,” Ewing said, adding that he believes the house has been entered since it was boarded up.

Trustee Dan Suttles said he supported razing the house but asked, “Where do we stop?” in terms of knocking down dilapidated structures and pursuing code violators in court.

“I want to do this,” he said. “I want to be fiscally responsible.”

Trustee Gary Lees responded that he sees razing buildings as a last resort. The township needs to adequately enforce the Exterior Property Maintenance Code, so that structures do not deteriorate to the point that they need to be razed.

“We’ll never get to this point if we have a property maintenance that’s well-maintained,” Lees said.

Ewing said most properties with dilapidated structures are taken over by the land bank, which has about five properties in Brookfield that it could demolish this year.

He added that the land bank received a grant to raze the abandoned gas station at South Irvine Avenue and Roberts Street, and is seeking authority to foreclose on commercial structures.