Owners of vacant houses and buildings may see a new annual fee starting next year.
City Council will vote today whether to approve a vacant house and building registry that will compile addresses of vacant property, its owners and their contact information. By the end of every year, each owner on the list will owe a certain fee depending on whether the house or building is well maintained.
“It’s another tool, another use, another addition to what we have on the books,” at-Large Council Member Eric Valenta said during a committee discussion Oct. 5. “It will help (the code compliance officer) do his job more effectively.”
The following is a breakdown on fees charged toward owners of vacant houses and buildings:
Owners will be charged a $50 fee for every vacant house that is well kept.
Owners will be charged a $200 fee for every vacant house that is not well kept.
Owners will be charged a $500 fee for every vacant commercial building that is well kept.
Owners will be charged a $1,000 fee for every vacant commercial building that is not well kept.
If the ordinance is approved, city officials will begin registering every house or building that has been vacant for 45 consecutive days or more. An owner can appeal registration with the Board of Appeals for a two-year or 90-day waiver.
City Council authorized the registry to be made into a proposed ordinance on Oct. 5 with a 6-to-3 vote. Valenta, who voted in support of the registry that evening, said that the legislation will help prevent blight and other problems associated with vacancy.
Last year, the code compliance officer cited 399 code violations and more than one-fourth of those code violations were reported at vacant houses or buildings, according to the 2010 Code Compliance Summary. In 2009m that ratio was around one-and-six.
Robin Turner, an at-large council member who along with two other council members voted against the registry, said it’s “governmental overreach.”
“Quite frankly it’s none of my business if they want to keep the house vacant,” Turner said. “If it’s about blight, we already have a code enforcement officer that does that.”
City Council will vote on the ordinance when they meet 7:30 p.m. tonight at 217 E. Summit Street.
Contact city reporter Simon Husted at