Council hears property registration update

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — The Sidney City Council received an update on the city’s vacant property registration program during its Monday evening hybrid workshop session.

Kyle Havenar, vacant property inspector, provided an update on the program focuses on abandoned and vacant properties around town. Council adopted an ordinance establishing the vacant property registration program in 2018.

Havenar shared the following current information:

• Active vacant property registration violations — 49;

• Violations closed — 122;

• Active vacant property registrations — 31;

• Active exemptions on file — 14;

• Affidavits of title recorded — 16;

There are 33 additional affidavits of title in process. Affidavits alert prospective buyers money is owed to the city for the vacant property program. Havenar included pictures of several properties where an affidavit of title had been recorded.

He said one administrative search warrant had been executed so the city could gain access to a vacant property in danger of collapsing. The property was deemed dangerous and was demolished. He also showed pictures of other three properties that were demolished in partnership with the Shelby County Land Reutilization Corporation (Land Bank).

Havenar outlined the following activities he has been or is working on to reduce vacant properties :

• Participated in the Chamber of Commerce leadership program;

• Working towards certification as a residential building inspector;

• Participating in all aspects of the zoning code re-write;

• Leading the development and implementation of the Neighborhood Pride Grant;

• Continuing to researching other initiatives and programs to reduce vacant property issues.

He further spoke about the program’s following 2021 goals:

• Review data related to vacancy – such as low/no water use, condemned properties, foreclosures filed, etc.;

• Complete second round of community-wide windshield survey;

• Streamline registration process for efficiency;

• Implement the Neighborhood Pride Grant;

• Become a certified building inspector;

• Research the potential for a residential rental registration program.

Council member Steve Wagner asked about the specifics of the proposed Neighborhood Pride Grant program after recently receiving a question about it from a resident. The program, of which Havenar first brought forth for discussion in July 2020, would identify target areas of Sidney on the cusp of decline to help with homes’ exterior improvements. Havenar said a detailed program overview is scheduled for an April City Council meeting.

Havenar told Mayor Mike Barhorst, when asked for a data comparison with the 2010 census vacancy property statistics, originally 200 local vacant properties were identified. Community Development Director Barbara Dulworth clarified the census counts unit dwelling vacancies and the local residential vacant property program does not address vacant apartment rental units. Barhorst expressed concern about getting ahead of properties in the initial stage of vacancy.

At the end of his presentation, council thanked and praised Havenar for his good work with the program.

In other business, Dulworth said the March Zoning Board/Planning Commission meetings are cancelled as nothing is on the agenda. City Manager Mark Cundiff then reviewed the prospective City Council agenda items for the next 30 days.

Council member Steven Klingler was absent Monday and he was excused by council.

City Council went into an executive session to discuss pending or imminent court action. Council also held a special meeting immediately prior to its regular meeting to hold an executive session to consider the employment of a public official/employee. No action was taken by council when members emerged from either session.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.