Speak­ers fa­vor changes to va­cant build­ings law

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OBITUARIES - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

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.

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