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Published: Thursday, 4/21/2005

Property values at Maumee site in question

The disposition of human remains unearthed and those apparently still buried at a construction site in Maumee is still unclear as officials await a written report from experts who surveyed the area this week.

And if the previously undisclosed burial site isn't enough of a problem, it could cause another possible headache for CSB Investors, which is developing the site at 2500 River Rd. into Riverside Commons.

The subdivision will have housing units that initially were estimated to cost from $350,000 to $750,000, but those property values could be affected by the discovery of the graves, some local Realtors said yesterday.

A week ago today, construction crews clearing the way for the subdivision unearthed what later were determined to probably be the 100-year-old remains of an African-American adult female.

Then, Historic Archaeological Research, of West Lafayette, Ind., examined the site with radar and electromagnetic currents to help determine whether the soil has ever been disturbed to accommodate burials. Preliminary findings suggest as many as six more graves may be at the site.

Maumee police found documents at Bowling Green State University stating that there was a cemetery at the site, first opened as the Protestant Orphan's Home by a group of Toledo philanthropists in 1867. The county took ownership in 1890, renaming the facility the Lucas County Children's Home. It later was known as the Miami Children's Center.

While they were researching, an archival worker told police of a book cataloging Ohio cemeteries compiled in 2003 by the Ohio Genealogical Society. Besides references in the book to Riverside and St. Joseph cemeteries in Maumee, they found an entry that reads an "unnamed cemetery on the grounds of the former Miami Children's Home."

The local Realtors said sellers of land have a duty to disclose to prospective buyers that the property holds or formerly held human remains.

"If I were instructing my agents, I would say you would definitely disclose. I always err on the side of caution," said Chris Hall, a vice president of Danberry Co. and a past president of the Toledo Board of Realtors.

Be as "forthcoming and honest about conditions they know" is what DiSalle Real Estate Co. advises clients, according to Dan DiSalle, Jr., vice president of residential sales.

As to what disclosure will do to the value of the parcels, R.C. Young, the owner of the property, said: "I have no idea at this point."

Representatives of the developers could not be reached for comment.

But Mr. Hall said property values will be affected. What's less certain is by how much.

"I would not like to be the appraiser who would refigure [the value of the land]," Mr. Hall said.

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