DOVER (WJER) (March 8, 2023) – The mayor has stopped plans to tear down a house after discovering it is owned by the former mayor’s son. The city’s law director thinks that information was hidden from him and other administrators.
Mayor Shane Gunnoe last month announced the city was awarding a contract to demolish a house at 114 W. 5th St., a building directly behind former Mayor Richard Homrighausen’s Wooster Avenue home.
Gunnoe says since then, officials have learned that property is owned by Homrighausen’s son, Nicholas Homrighausen, a candidate for mayor who will oppose Gunnoe on the Republican primary ballot.
Gunnoe says that raises ethical and conflict of interest concerns because the younger Homrighausen applied for government funding for the work when his father was still mayor.
“Without any doubt there’s an appearance of a conflict of interest and an appearance of impropriety, and we’re going to investigate that,” said Dover Law Director Doug O’Meara.
O’Meara says he and others did not know who owned the property because it was not included in the information provided by the Buildings and Zonings Administrator.
“That information was kept from the administration and me prior to Friday, and when we discovered it, we put a hold on that portion of the application,” O’Meara said.
He says Homrighausen did not indicate the possible conflict of interest on his application. O’Meara says the rules governing the funding prohibit someone with “immediate family ties” to an elected official from benefiting financially from the program.
“That information should not have been withheld … so that these reviews could have begun prior to the application actually being submitted, and it was hidden from us.”
County auditor records show Nicholas Homrighausen bought the West 5th Street house in 2019. The memo to city administrators said Homrighausen, without using his name, wants to build a new habitable structure farther into the small parcel of land.
Homrighausen submitted an application for funding for the demolition Feb. 10, 2022, according to O’Meara. Richard Homrighausen was acting as mayor at that time. He was suspended the following April and removed from office in January.
The money would have come from the Ohio Department of Development that has ties to federal financing.
Gunnoe says the city received a $228,500 grant to demolish that house and four others.
O’Meara says he is consulting with state and county officials before issuing an opinion on how the city should proceed.
Homrighausen did not return a phone message.