Speakers favor changes to vacant buildings law
Proposed revisions to the city law governing vacant buildings were endorsed by the three people who spoke at a public hearing on the matter.
The speakers at the Tuesday hearing said they hoped the changes would allow city officials to deal with buildings that have been abandoned.
“We have these vacant homes around us,” city resident Lois Smith said. “There has been vandalism in these homes. I live in a townhouse that’s attached to one of these homes ... [and] we’ve had people try to break into our home, thinking that it’s part of the vacant home.”
Lorraine Goldstein said vacant homes near her are a nuisance that attract kids.
“We have three boardedup houses,” she said. “We have roofing tiles all over the road. We have young children going up to the property. There’s broken glass.”
Thomas Tiano, deputy chief of Kingston’s Building Safety Division, said the proposed revisions address language in the current law that makes it difficult for the city to secure a property.
“The exact wording in the current law is that for a building to be vacant it has to be ‘unoccupied and secured in other than normal means,’ meaning that it has to be padlocked, boarded up, and you can’t just walk away and turn the lock on the door and say, ‘It’s vacant now,’” he said.
“The lawyer for an outof-state bank, when they got their vacant building fee, contact [ed] our office and said, ‘I don’t believe we have any vacant buildings in your city,’” Tiano said. “He said they weren’t boarded up or anything, and we said they were right, it didn’t meet the criteria. Since it didn’t meet the criteria of being secured in other than a normal means, technically we couldn’t assess a fee for a vacant building.”
Under the proposed revisions, a building would be considered vacant when it is unoccupied for more than 90 days. The mortgage holder would have 30 days to register the property and be held responsible for maintaining the site.
The regulations also would require the property owner or mortgage holder to pay annual fees of $1,200 each of the first four years of a vacancy, $5,200 for the fifth year, $6,200 the sixth, $7,200 for the seventh, $8,200 for the eighth, $9,200 for the ninth year and $10,200 for the 10th.