TITLE 15. BUILDINGS AND CONSTRUCTIONTITLE 15. BUILDINGS AND CONSTRUCTION\Chapter 15.40 VACANT BUILDINGS

Recognizing that vacant buildings and properties contribute to blight in commercial neighborhoods, discourage economic development and retard appreciation of property values, endanger public health and safety, attract criminal activity, and create fire hazards, it is the responsibility of property owners to prevent buildings from becoming a burden to the neighborhood and community and a threat to the public health, safety, and welfare. Maintenance of the public health, safety, and welfare thus requires the City to maintain an accurate registration of all vacant buildings and properties.

(Ord. 967; Code 2016)

A.    Building means a building, accessory structure, mobile or modular structure, or other structure adapted to permanent occupancy for residential or commercial purposes;

B.    City means the City of Belleville;

C.    Chronic Vacancy means any building or property vacant and unregistered one year or more;

D.    Commercial means any structure or property classified as a commercial structure, to-wit: “C1,” “C2,” or “C3” under the zoning ordinances of the city of Belleville.

E.    Owner means the person, persons or entity identified as the owner or owners on the last deed of record;

F.    Unsecured means that access to the building may be obtained through open, unlocked, broken or missing doors or windows of such building;

G.    Vacant Building means a building or property that is unattended or unoccupied and is not actively used as a place of business, or the building is frequently open or unsecured so that unauthorized admittance may be gained without damaging any portion of the property. A commercial building or property will be considered vacant when found to be in the above condition for more than six (6) months and subject to the registration requirements found in section 15.40.030.

(Ord. 967; Code 2016)

A.    The owner of a vacant building or property must register the building with the City designated officer within twenty (20) days of written notice provided to the owner or the owner’s resident agent of the existence of the vacant building. Such notice shall be served on the owner or resident agent by personal service or by certified mail, return receipt requested. If the owner is a non-resident, such notice shall be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the owner;

B.    The City shall also accept notifications by mail or electronic transmissions of a building or property that meets the definition of a Vacant Building or Property as defined in section 15.40.020 and shall pursue registration of said building/property in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

C.    The required registration shall be submitted on the form provided by the City available on the City’s website, which form shall include the name, current mailing address, phone number and any other contact information of the owner; the names and addresses of all known lien holders and all other parties with a legal or equitable ownership interest in the building; the common address of the building, as well as the tax map, map block, parcel tax identification and sale or rental price. The form shall also include the period of time the vacant building is expected to remain vacant, and a plan and timetable for either:

1.    returning the vacant building or property to appropriate occupancy or use, including compliance with the minimum maintenance standard of section 15.40.040; or

2.    marketing the property.

D.    Pursuant to the registration requirements of this subsection, for every subsequent year a building remains vacant beyond the initial registration, the owner of the vacant building must:

1.    re-register the building or property, including appropriate fees, and

2.    submit an updated plan for either returning the vacant building or property to appropriate occupancy or use, or marketing thereof.

E.    If the owner of the vacant building or property does not reside in Republic County for at least six (6) months a year, then they must provide the information for a resident agent with authority to act with respect to the property, such resident agent to reside in Republic County at least six (6) months a year, including name, current mailing address, phone number and any other contact information of the owner’s agent. Failure to identify a resident agent is grounds for rejection of the registration application without refund of the application fee as well as the penalties in section 15.04.050;

F.    Any subsequent owner of a vacant building or property must register or re-register the building with the City designated officer within thirty (30) days of any transfer of any ownership interest in the vacant building;

G.    The owner of a vacant building or property must keep the building and any adjoining property secure, safe and maintained in compliance with all federal, state and local ordinances and regulations;

H.    A registration fee of one-hundred dollars ($100.00) per commercial building, shall be collected by the City designated officer at the time of registration or re-registration.

(Ord. 967; Code 2016)

A.    Upon the request of the City’s designated officer, an owner shall provide access to all interior portions of any vacant building or suspected vacant building in order to permit a complete inspection of the same.

B.    No registration application under this chapter shall be accepted unless the vacant building or property meets a minimum maintenance standard as assessed by the City’s designated officer, with or without the advice and assistance of any third party professional(s) with the specialized knowledge necessary to conduct such assessment, including structural integrity, a roof in adequate condition to repel moisture and the elements, intact walls, windows and doors which allow for securing the building or property such that it will not deteriorate, attract pests, or pose a safety risk to the public.

C.    The owner of vacant building or property will make the property available for an initial inspection within seven (7) days of submitting the registration application, and again within fourteen (14) days of the City’s request of subsequent, reasonable inspections in order to ascertain the ongoing condition of the building and compliance with 15.40.030 above, as well as the City’s building codes. Such inspections shall take place at reasonable times during business hours. Failure to permit an inspection hereunder is grounds for rejection of the registration application without refund of the application fee as well as the penalties in section 15.40.050.

(Ord. 967; Code 2016)

A.    Penalties.

1.    Any owner who fails to register a vacant building under this artiicle shall be liable for a civil penalty of five hundred dollars ($500.00).

2.    If the building continues to meet the definition of a vacant building for a period of ninety (90) calendar days beyond the required registration or re-registration date, and the owner fails to register or re-register such building, the City designated officer shall assess a penalty of five hundred ($500.00) for each ninety (90) calendar day period the building continues to be unregistered.

3.    If a building or property is vacant and unregistered more than one (1) year and remains unregistered it shall be classified as a chronic vacancy, and as a chronic vacancy a building or property shall be subject to a fee of $5,000.00 per year of chronic vacancy with a 10% annual increase. Funds derived from said fee shall be used to offset the city’s cost of annual inspections as found in section 15.40.040.

4.    All penalties assessed shall be payable directly to the City.

5.    Any and all civil penalties assessed under this section shall be billed to the owner or other responsible party. Failure or refusal to pay any and all such penalties permits the City to pursue any and all available legal remedies for the enforcement and collection of such penalties; including but not limited to, civil actions being filed in district court, suits or actions being maintained in any court of competent jurisdiction, abatement of nuisances maintained in violation of this chapter, institution of injunction, mandamus, or other appropriate action or proceedings to enforce the penalty provisions of this chapter.

6.    When penalties assessed under this paragraph have gone unpaid for one (1) year, they shall be added to the county’s tax rolls as a special assessment.

B.    Procedures.

1.    Upon failure to register a vacant building a Notice of Registration Penalty shall be issued to the owner;

2.    A separate Notice of Registration Penalty shall be issued for each subsequent penalty that may be assessed;

3.    The Notice of Registration Penalty shall be served upon the owner by certified mail or personal service;

4.    This chapter in no way limits the penalties, actions or abatement procedures which may be taken by the City for a violation of any other ordinance of the City or statute of the State of Kansas.

(Ord. 967; Code 2016)