Two ordinances were approved by Corning’s City Council on Tuesday to discourage downtown and residential blight by initiating measures which prohibit property owners in both downtown and residential neighborhoods from leaving their property unmaintained and boarded up, and to impose a vacant building monitoring fee on empty buildings.
City Manager Kristina Miller said vacant buildings which are unmanaged and unmaintained by their owners frequently result in blight, and an attraction to transients and criminals to Corning’s downtown and neighborhoods. This, she added, results in significant costs to the City for law enforcement response, code enforcement, and related issues.
The vacant building ordinance requires owners of vacant buildings to pay a monitoring fee to the City during the time the building remains vacant beyond a 90-day period or is boarded up by the city. The amount of the fees will be set by resolution approved by the City Council. Fees not paid will result in a lien or a special assessment placed on the property, according to the ordinance.
As for boarded up buildings, the City now prohibits property owners from leaving their property boarded up, regardless of whether the owners boarded up the building or the City did the work, for a period of 30 days. It also prohibits the existence of a vacant buildings for more than a 30 day period unless – the building is the subject of an active permit for repair or rehabilitation; the building meets all codes, does not contribute to blight, and is actively being offered for sale, lease or rent; and the city’s building inspector determines the building does not contribute to blight based on certain factors.
In this ordinance, the property owner will be given a notice of violation and have 30 days to remedy the situation. If there are no actions taken by the property owner, administrative penalties will be imposed of no more than $1,000 per building or owner. Each day will be considered a separate offense and a violation of the ordinance will be considered a misdemeanor.
The ordinances cite vacant buildings in the community are often used as dumping grounds for junk and debris, including drugs needles and other drug related trash, as well as being overgrown with weeds and grass. In addition, the blight caused by unmaintained and unmanaged buildings creates a health and safety concern and bring down property values of surrounding real estate.
There is an appeals process set for those designated for alleged violators, which includes a hearing process.
Both ordinances go into full force and become effective 30 days following Tuesday’s adoption.