SIDNEY — Kyle Havenar, vacant property inspector for the city of Sidney, address the Sidney Rotary Club during the club’s weekly luncheon, July 23.
Havenar noted that the city is considering the implementation of a vacant property registration program patterned after a similar one in Sandusky. The purpose of the program is to encourage reuse and revitalization of abandoned or vacant residential and commercial structures throughout the city. In Sandusky, they successfully reduced the number of vacant and abandoned commercial properties from 115 to 13 units.
According to Havenar, there are 425 vacant residential structures and 50 vacant commercial and industrial buildings in Sidney. Abandoned structures pose a significant safety and health risk to the public in terms of fire, explosion, trash and other unknown hazards that might be present in the buildings. Added concerns include the negative impact on neighboring property values for those residing in the vicinity of an abandoned building.
If enacted as a city ordinance, a vacant property registration program would require the owners of abandoned residences and commercial buildings to register their properties with the city. That would make the city aware of such structures and give the city up-to-date contact information for property owners. With such records available, the city believes further deterioration of the buildings can be abated.
Affected property owners would be required to pay a fee of $200 for residential and $400 for commercial buildings in Year 1 of their registration. These fees would increase in Years 2 through 5 if the buildings remained vacant. Property owners who fail to pay the required fees will have the delinquent amounts due added to their property tax invoices.
Some exceptions could be granted to property owners in certain circumstances, to include owners who temporarily leave the area and intend to return, such as those who winter in a warmer climate. Other reasonable explanations may also be considered, subject to city approval.
The city is considering incentives for property owners who have a plan to develop a property or for those who occupy the property within a short period of time following the filing of their vacant property registration forms.
If enacted, vacant property registration forms will be available online or at city hall. Residents are encouraged to review the contents of this proposed ordinance on the city web site at www.sidneyoh.com/News_Events/index.asp.