City Council is scheduled to introduce an ordinance next week that would establish an abandoned property list in attempt to help spur rehabilitation of the properties.
The measure is scheduled to be introduced at the next regular meeting, on Oct. 10. A public hearing and vote on the legislation (O-32-17) likely would take place at the governing body’s next meeting, a combined pre-conference/regular meeting scheduled for Nov. 20.
UPDATED, Nov. 21: City Council last night unanimously approved the ordinance by a 6-0 vote, with three council members absent (3rd Ward Councilman Bob Bresenhan, 5th Ward Councilwoman Jennifer Wenson-Maier and 6th Ward Councilman Ray Giacobbe, Jr.). There were no comments from the public or council members during the public hearing,
The ordinance would create “Chapter 111, Abandoned Properties,” in the city code. “The city desires create [sic] and maintain an abandoned property list in order to rehabilitate those abandoned properties,” according to the proposed ordinance.
It’s not clear how the abandoned property registry would differ from a foreclosure registry created three years ago, which levies a registration fee and annual renewal fees but the new proposed ordinance does not include a fee.
The city created a foreclosure and vacancy registry three years ago, which generated $403,500 in revenue last year after budgeting $325,000, with about $350,000 anticipated in the 2017 budget. There were about 95 vacant properties as of September 2015, according to the registry, and about half as many as of September 2017.
Under the proposal, any property that has not be legally occupied for six months and which meets any one of the following additional criteria may be deemed abandoned property upon a determination by a city official:
- In need of rehabilitation in the reasonable judgement of the city official and no rehabilitation has taken place during that same six-month period;
- Construction was initiated on the property but was discontinued prior to completion, leaving it unsuitable for occupancy, and no construction has taken place for at least six months as of the date of determination;
- At least one installment of property tax remains unpaid and delinquent as of the date of determination;
Property determined to be a nuisance by the designated city official and would be subject to the habitability hearing process for any one of five reasons related to hazards such as fire or disease, among others.
A property that contains both residential and nonresidential space may be considered abandoned so long as two-thirds or more of the total net square footage of the building was previously legally occupied as residential space and none of the residential space has been occupied for at least six months at the time of determination.
An owner of lienholder can challenge the inclusion of their property on the abandoned property list by appealing the determination within 30 days of receiving certified notes or 40 days from the date when the notice was sent.
Any “interested party” — a resident or business owner or operator or organization representing such interests — may submit a written request to the city asserting that any property within the city should be included on the abandoned property list. The request must specify street address and block and lot and grounds for inclusion. The city would have to respond to such a request within 30 days.