Article V - Vacant Building Code
ARTICLE V - VACANT BUILDING CODE
Recognizing that vacant commercial buildings and properties contribute to blight, discourage economic development, diminish area property values, endanger public health and safety, attract criminal activity, create fire hazards, and also discourages neighborhood stability. 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 commercial and residential buildings and properties.
Vacant commercial and residential buildings shall constitute a public nuisance. The City of Grant is given the power and authority pursuant to Nebraska Revised Statute §18-1720 to define, regulate, suppress, and prevent such nuisances.
SECTION 3-503: CITY SUPERINTENDENT RESPONSIBLE FOR ENFORCEMENT
The City Superintendent and/or their designees are designated to administer and enforce this article.
For the purposes of this article, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them:
Building means a building, accessory structure, mobile or modular structure, or other structure used for commercial, residential, or mixed-use purposes.
Calendar year means a period of one year starting January 1 of the given year and ends on December 31st of the same given year.
City means the City of Grant.
Commercial activity means having the objective of supplying commodities (goods and services), industrial uses, industrial manufacturing, and ancillary business functions.
Commercial building means a building with more than fifty (5O) percent of its floor space used for commercial activity. For the purposes of this section, floor space shall be designated as the area on the main or street level of the building.
Residential building means a housing structure or other framework, together with such land on which the dwelling and appurtenant buildings are located, that is used or intended to support occupancy of one or more persons for non-business purposes. This includes but is not limited to the following: a house, a condominium, a townhouse, an apartment unit or building, or a trailer house.
Owner means the person, persons, or entity shown to be the owner or owners of record on the records of the Perkins County Register of Deeds.
Significant fire damage means fire damage which has damaged the structural integrity of the building or has made the building unfit for human occupancy.
Unoccupied means a building which is not being used for a legal use or occupancy. The storage of products and materials does not constitute occupancy unless authorized by the Zoning Ordinance of the City.
Vacant building means a commercial or residential building or property that:
- Is unoccupied;
- Is without a tenant for a period of one hundred eighty (180) consecutive days;
- Has had minimal or no utility usage for a period of one hundred eighty (180) consecutive days; and (4) Is not "for sale," "for rent," or "for lease". The owner has the obligation to produce evidence of active marketing the sale, rent or lease. Such evidence may include one of the following: listing with a licensed real estate broker, advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation within the City or listing on a recognized online website.
Vacant building does not include any building being constructed pursuant to a valid building permit issued by the City of Grant.
- Registration and maintenance requirements; fees.
- The owner of a vacant building must register the building with the City within thirty (30) calendar 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. If notice by personal service or certified mail is unsuccessful, notice shall be given by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the City or by conspicuously posting the notice on the property or building which is vacant. A copy of the notice under this article shall be recorded by the City Clerk or their designee in the records of the Register of Deeds for Perkins County, Nebraska and indexed against the premises.
- The required registration shall be submitted on the form provided by the City. The form shall include but not be limited to: the name, street address, current mailing address, phone number and if applicable, the facsimile number and email address of the property owner and his or her agent; the street address and parcel identification number of the vacant property; the transfer date of the instrument conveying the property to the owner; and the date on which the property became vacant. The form shall also include the period of time the vacant building is expected to remain vacant, and a plan and timetable for either:
- Returning the vacant building or property to appropriate occupancy or use;
- marketing the property pursuant to the requirements of subsection of this ordinance;
- making any necessary repairs; or
- demolition of the building.
- All applicable laws and codes shall be complied with by the owner. The owner shall notify the City of any changes in information supplied as part of the vacant building registration within thirty (30) calendar days of the change. If the plan or timetable for the vacant building is revised in any way, the revisions must be approved by the City Superintendent and/or their designee.
- 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:
- Re-register the building, including appropriate fees; and
- Submit an updated plan for either returning the vacant building to appropriate occupancy or use, marketing thereof, making necessary repairs, or demolition of the building.
- If the owner of the vacant building does not reside in Perkins County for at least one hundred eighty (180) days in a calendar year, then they may provide the information for a resident agent with authority to act with respect to the property, including name, current mailing address, phone number, and any other contact information of the owner's agent.
- Any subsequent owner of a vacant building must register or re-register the building with the City within thirty (30) calendar days of any transfer of any ownership interest in the vacant building. The new owner(s) shall comply with the approved plan and timetable submitted by the previous owner until any proposed changes are submitted and meet the approval of the City.
- The owner of a vacant building shall keep the building and any adjoining property secure, safe, and properly maintained in compliance with all federal, state, and local ordinances and regulations.
- The building shall not be used for storage unless specifically allowed pursuant to the City of Grant Zoning Ordinance.
- Any subsequent owner or owners of the vacant property subject to the ordinance will assume the obligations of the previous owner or owners.
- The owner of a vacant building shall pay a registration fee as established by resolution adopted by the City Council for the period the building remains a vacant building. This fee includes the initial inspection of the property by the City Superintendent and/or their designee.
- The registration fee shall be paid at the time of registration.
- The fees shall be paid in full prior to the issuance of any building permits.
- Fees associated with this Article shall be paid directly to the City of Grant. In the event that fees are unpaid, the City Attorney shall institute appropriate action against the owner for the recovery of such costs.
- An owner who acquires a vacant building for which the registration fee has already been paid for the calendar year period shall register the change of ownership with the City but is not liable for an additional registration fee for that calendar year.
- The owner of a vacant building that meets one of the exceptions set forth below shall be required to have the building inspected and to register the building with the City, but the registration fee is waived:
- Property only considered to be a seasonal residence; and the property is in compliance with all applicable City of Grant Revised Municipal Codes.
- Property of an owner who is temporarily absent for more than one hundred eighty (180) consecutive days, but who has demonstrated his or her intent to return with timetable in writing on file with the City Clerk; and the property is in compliance with all applicable City of Grant Revised Municipal Codes.
- Property that is scheduled for demolition and has a written timetable for demolition on file with the City Clerk.
- Property under construction or renovation pursuant to a valid building permit issued by the City of Grant.
- Property subject to divorce, probate, or estate proceedings; and the property is in compliance with all applicable City of Grant Revised Municipal Codes.
- Property that is "for sale," "for rent," or "for lease" and where the owner can produce sufficient good faith evidence of active marketing of sale, rent, or lease; and the property is in compliance with all applicable City of Grant Revised Municipal Codes.
- A building that is vacant because it has suffered significant damage by fire, weather, an act of God or vandalism within the previous one hundred eight (180) calendar days.
- All buildings owned by government entities including the United States Federal Government, State of Nebraska, and any political subdivisions thereof shall be exemption from all sections of this article.
- The City Superintendent and/or their designee may schedule and notify the property owner of a primary inspection of the property. At least ten (10) calendar days advance written notice of the inspection shall be provided to the property owner and/or tenant in accordance with applicable law. If the owner and/or tenant of a vacant building refuses to consent to an inspection, the City Superintendent and/or their designee shall obtain a warrant for the inspection in accordance with applicable law.
- The City Superintendent and/or their designee may inspect a vacant building upon registration to assure compliance with the provisions of this article and all other applicable building codes of the City. Upon registration the vacant building will be inspected by the City Superintendent and/or their designee. The City Superintendent and/or their designee shall be authorized to take such actions necessary or appropriate to implement, administer, and carry out the inspection requirements of this article, including, but not limited to, scheduling inspections for the efficient use of City resources.
- When the primary inspection of a vacant building reveals any violation to the current City of Grant Revised Municipal Code, a notice shall be provided to the property owner identifying the violations and such violations shall be corrected pursuant to all applicable City of Grant Revised Municipal Codes.
- The primary inspection shall be conducted at no charge. Follow up inspections after the primary inspection also shall be conducted at no charge if violations have been corrected. If any violation has not been corrected, a fee as established by resolution adopted by the City Council shall be charged for inspections after the primary inspection.
- Inspections may also be conducted at other times as the City Superintendent and/or their designee deem necessary, including inspections on a complaint-basis.
- Inspections provided under this Article shall be in addition and supplemental to any other inspection or access authorized under applicable law.
- A vacant building shall be inspected annually before or near the registration renewal date. The City reserves the right to inspect a vacant building at any reasonable time as conditions warrant for so long as the property remains on the vacant property registration database.
- The City Superintendent and/or their designee may inspect or cause to be inspected any vacant premises in the City for the purposes of enforcing and assuring compliance with the provisions of this chapter and safeguarding the health, safety, and welfare of the general public.
- The state fire marshal and/or their designee is authorized to enter and inspect, or cause to be inspected, all vacant buildings and premises for the purpose of conducting an annual fire code compliance inspection.
- Where any vacant building poses an immediate danger to the health, safety, or general welfare of any person or persons, and the owner fails to remedy the situation in a reasonable time after notice by the City to do so, the City may summarily repair such building or structure only insofar as to fix the immediate danger to the health, safety or general welfare or any person or persons.
- Upon receiving notice declaring a building vacant, the owner of the building may appeal such decision within twenty (20) calendar days of receipt of the notice. Such appeal shall be in writing sent by certified mail to the City Clerk accompanied by a non-refundable appeal fee. Such appeal shall request a hearing before the City Council to present reasons why the building should not be declared vacant. The appeal fee shall be set by resolution of the City Council. The City Council shall set such hearing within twenty (20) business days from the date of receipt the written request.
- A written notice of the City Council's decision following the hearing shall be sent to the property owner by certified mail. If the City Council rejects the appeal, the owner shall have thirty (30) calendar days from the decision to register the vacant building; provided, the property owner may appeal such decision, within thirty (30) calendar days of the City Council's decision, to the appropriate court for adjudication during which proceedings the decision of the City Council shall be stayed.
- Any and all civil penalties assessed under this article 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, liens, 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 article, institution of injunction, mandamus, or other appropriate action or proceedings to enforce the penalty provisions of this article.
- This ordinance 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 Nebraska.
- Should any paragraph, section or subsection of this article be declared to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the decision shall not affect the validity of the article as a whole or any part thereof, other than the part so declared to be invalid.
SECTION 3-513: ALTERNATIVE PROCEDURES
- Nothing in this article shall be deemed to abolish or impair existing remedies of the City authorized by this Code.