[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Hudson 9-18-2018 by L.L. No. 8-2018. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is the finding of the Common Council that buildings which remain vacant, with access points boarded over, are unsightly, unsafe and have a negative effect on their surroundings. This is particularly troublesome in residential and neighborhood commercial neighborhoods. Unfortunately, many buildings, once boarded, remain that way for many years. The purpose of this chapter is to establish a program for identifying and registering vacant buildings; to determine the responsibilities of owners of vacant buildings and structures; and to speed the rehabilitation of the vacant properties. Buildings which become vacant due to foreclosure or that are vacant when foreclosed upon present additional problems. It is often more difficult to secure compliance with this chapter when the property is owned by a bank or mortgage company located in another jurisdiction. As the number of vacant properties increases, the maintenance of vacant buildings becomes even more critical.
Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following terms shall, for the purpose of this chapter, have the meanings indicated in this section:
- ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- A duly authorized representative of the Code Enforcement Office.
- Those shown to be the owner or owners on the records of the City of Hudson Assessor, those identified as the owner or owners on a vacant building registration form, a mortgagee in possession, a mortgagor in possession, assignee of rents, receiver, executor, trustee, lessee, other person, firm or corporation in control of the premises. Any such person shall have a joint and several obligation for compliance with the provisions of this chapter.
- SECURED BY OTHER THAN NORMAL MEANS
- A building secured by means other than those used in the design of the building.
- A building which is not being used for an occupancy authorized by the owner, the Hudson City Code, and all applicable building codes.
- A building or portion of a building which is open to entry by unauthorized persons without the use of tools or ladders.
- VACANT BUILDING
- A building or portion of a building which is:
The owner shall register with the Code Enforcement Officer not later than 30 days after any building in the City becomes a vacant building or not later than 30 days after being notified by the Code Enforcement Officer of the requirement to register. The Code Enforcement Officer may identify vacant buildings through its routine inspection process, as well as through notification by residents, neighborhood associations and other community groups that a building may be eligible for inclusion on the registry.
The registration shall be submitted on forms provided by the Code Enforcement Officer and shall include the following information supplied by the owner:
A description of the premises.
The names, addresses, copy of driver's license, social security number, and telephone numbers of the owner or owners.
If the owner does not reside in Columbia County or any adjoining county, the name, address, copy of driver's license, social security number, and telephone number of any third party with whom the owner has entered into a contract or agreement for property management.
The names and addresses of all known lienholders and all other parties with an ownership interest in the building.
A telephone number where a responsible party can be reached at all times during business and nonbusiness hours.
The owner shall submit a vacant building plan which must meet the approval of the Enforcement Officer. The plan, at a minimum, must contain information from one of the following three choices for the property:
If the building is to be demolished, a demolition plan indicating the proposed time frame for demolition and the proposed time frame for any necessary permitting through the City.
If the building is to remain vacant, a plan for the securing of the building, along with the procedure that will be used to monitor and maintain the property in accordance with all applicable building codes, and a statement of the reasons why the building will be left vacant.
If the building is to be returned to appropriate occupancy or use, a rehabilitation plan for the property. The rehabilitation plan shall not exceed 365 days, unless the Enforcement Officer grants an extension upon receipt of a written statement from the owner detailing the reasons for the extension. If no building permit has been applied for within the 365 days, the Enforcement Officer will send written notification to the owner of the lack of compliance with § 91-3C. The owner will be required to file an extension with a revised rehabilitation plan and reasons for noncompliance. Failure to respond may result in the imposition of the penalties set forth in § 91-6. Any repairs, improvements or alterations to the property must comply with any applicable zoning, housing, historic preservation or building codes.
All applicable laws and codes shall be complied with by the owner. The owner shall notify the Code Enforcement Officer of any changes in information supplied as part of the vacant building registration within 30 days of the change. If the plan or timetable for the vacant building is revised in any way, the revisions must be in writing and must meet the approval of the Enforcement Officer.
The owner and subsequent owners shall keep the building secured and safe and the building and grounds properly maintained and monitored in accordance with all applicable building codes.
Failure of the owner or any subsequent owners to maintain the building and premises that results in remedial action taken by the City shall be grounds for revocation of the approved plan and shall be subject to any applicable penalties provided by the law.
The new owners shall register or reregister the vacant building with the Enforcement Officer within 30 days of any transfer of an ownership interest in a vacant building. The new owners 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 Enforcement Officer.
Vacant building fees.
The owner of a vacant building shall pay an annual fee as set forth in Subsection H(2) for the period the building remains a vacant building. The fee shall be reasonably related to the administrative costs for registering and processing the vacant building owner registration form and for the costs of the City in monitoring and inspecting the vacant building site. Vacant building registration fees will not be accepted until an application is complete.
The first-year annual fee shall be $1,000 and shall be paid no later than 30 days after the building becomes vacant. If the fee is not paid within 30 days of being due, the owner shall be subject to prosecution as prescribed in § 91-6. If a plan is extended beyond 365 days, subsequent annual fees shall be paid as follows:
The fee shall be paid in full prior to the issuance of any building permit or demolition permit. The fee shall be prorated, and a refund may be issued if the building is no longer deemed vacant under the provisions of this chapter within 180 days of its registry.
All delinquent fees shall be paid by the owner prior to any transfer of an ownership interest in any vacant building. If the fees are not paid prior to any transfer, the new owner shall pay the annual fee no later than 30 days after the transfer of ownership, and subsequent annual fees shall be due on the new anniversary date.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, all costs and expenses, including reasonable legal fees, incurred by the City in connection with inspecting, securing, maintaining and/or removing a vacant building shall be assessed against the land on which the building is located. If the owner shall fail to pay the costs and expenses incurred by the City within 10 days after being notified of the costs thereof by registered mail, the Code Enforcement Officer shall file, immediately preceding the time for making the annual assessment roll, a certificate of such actual cost and expense with a statement as to the property upon which such cost and expense were incurred and the building which was removed or repaired, as the case may be, with the City Assessor, who shall, in the preparation of the next assessment roll of the general City taxes, assess such amount upon such property, and the same shall be levied, collected and enforced in the same manner, by the same proceedings, at the same time, under the same penalties and shall have the same lien upon the property assessed as the general City tax and as a part thereof.
The Enforcement Officer shall include in the file any property-specific engineering reports, written statements from community organizations, other interested parties or citizens regarding the condition, history, problems, status or blighting influence of a vacant building.
The purchaser/buyer of any vacant building within the City of Hudson shall, at the time of closing, file a new and complete vacant building registration form. The purchaser shall also pay to the City of Hudson, at the time of closing, the fees associated with registering such vacant building.
The seller of any vacant building within the City of Hudson shall, at the time of closing, pay any and all past due vacant building registration fees associated with said building that is being sold.
No building shall be removed from the vacant building registry until such time as it is occupied on an ongoing basis consistent with the customary and usual usage for such property.
A building which has suffered fire damage or damage caused by extreme weather conditions shall be exempt from the registration requirement for a period of 90 days after the date of the fire or extreme weather event if the property owner submits a request for exemption, in writing, to the Code Enforcement Officer. This request shall include the following information supplied by the owner:
The Code Enforcement Office shall inspect any premises in the City for the purpose of enforcing and assuring compliance with the provisions of this chapter. Upon the request of the Enforcement Officer, an owner may provide access to all interior portions of an unoccupied building in order to permit a complete inspection. Nothing contained herein, however, shall diminish the owner's right to insist upon the procurement of a search warrant from a court of competent jurisdiction by the Enforcement Officer, or his or her designee, in order to enable such inspection, and the Enforcement Officer shall be required to obtain a search warrant whenever an owner refuses to permit a warrantless inspection of the premises after having been·advised of his or her constitutional right to refuse entry without same.
The Code Enforcement Office shall submit an annual report, not later than April 15 of each year, to the Mayor and Common Council listing all buildings in the City declared vacant under the provisions of this chapter, the date upon which they were declared vacant and whether a vacant building registration and vacant building plan has been filed for the building. The report shall additionally include a list of all previously declared vacant buildings which are no longer subject to the provisions of this chapter.
Any person violating any provision of the vacant building registry or providing false information to the Enforcement Officer shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 per day of violation or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both such fine and imprisonment.
The term "person," as used in this section, shall include the owner, occupant, mortgagee or vendee in possession, assignee of rents, receiver, executor, trustee, lessee, agent or any other person, firm or corporation directly or indirectly in control of the building or part thereof.
Each day of violation shall be deemed to constitute a separate offense.