[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of New Castle 3-10-2020 by L.L. No. 2-2020. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to promote the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Town of New Castle by encouraging the rehabilitation and reoccupancy of vacant storefronts in the Town.
Findings. It is hereby determined that:
The presence of vacant storefronts can adversely affect the desirability of the immediate and neighboring areas, discourage buyers from purchasing property within the Town, prevent the most appropriate use and development of properties, and contribute to the diminution of the taxable value of property in such areas and their ability to support the municipal services provided therefor.
One empty storefront on a block can lead to more vacancies and diminish the value and appeal of the surrounding commercial area.
Small businesses, in particular, rely on a vibrant commercial corridor to attract customers.
It is in the best interest of the Town of New Castle to encourage owners of vacant storefront properties to lease or otherwise utilize such properties in a productive manner rather than allowing them to remain vacant.
A vacant storefront registry will help drive economic development by helping potential small business owners locate contact information and locations of vacant storefronts.
For the purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:
- BUILDING INSPECTOR
- The Building Inspector of the Town of New Castle or his authorized representative.
- Any space on the ground floor of a building or structure located in the B-R, B-RP or B-D Zoning Districts that may be leased, subleased or otherwise occupied for a commercial use and that has a window which allows an unobstructed public view of such premises from any immediately adjacent street, sidewalk, walkway or right-of-way.
- TOWN BOARD
- The Town Board of the Town of New Castle.
- VACANT STOREFRONT
- A storefront shall be deemed vacant if no individual, organization or business entity currently occupies and uses such space to conduct a nonresidential use.
The owner of a vacant storefront located in the B-R, B-RP or B-D Zoning Districts shall register the property with the Building Department within 90 days of the effective date of this chapter and thereafter within 30 days upon a storefront becoming vacant on a form provided by the Building Department. The registration form shall be known as the "Vacant Storefront Registration Statement" and shall be signed by the owner under oath and contain the following information:
The street address of the property;
The tax identification number of the property;
The square footage of the vacant premises;
The owner's name, mailing address, e-mail address and telephone number(s), and if such owner is a corporation or other entity, the name, mailing address, e-mail address and telephone number(s) of an authorized officer or agent of such business entity;
The name, address and contact telephone number(s) of any realtor or property manager who is responsible for maintaining and/or reletting the vacant premises;
The date when the premises became vacant; and
Any additional information the Town may require.
The registration shall remain valid for one year from the date of registration, except for the initial registration time, which shall be prorated through December 31. The owner shall be required to renew the registration annually as long as the building or a portion thereof contains a vacant storefront.
At the time of the initial registration and any subsequent renewals thereof, the owner shall pay a fee for each vacant storefront in the amount set forth in the Master Fee Schedule of the Town of New Castle.
The annual renewal shall be completed and submitted to the Building Department by January 31 each year.
The owner shall notify the Building Department within 30 calendar days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement on a form provided by the Building Department for such purpose.
In the event the owner fails to register a vacant storefront or fails to renew the registration for a storefront that remains vacant, as determined by the Building Inspector, the Building Inspector shall notify the property owner in writing, via first class and certified mail, return receipt requested, that the initial registration fee and/or registration renewal fees, as applicable, must be paid. Any owner who fails to register a vacant storefront or fails to renew the registration for a storefront that remains vacant shall be subject to the penalties set forth in § 122A-8.
Upon registration, the owner shall display a sign in the storefront window, in a location clearly visible from the street, sidewalk, walkway, parking lot or right-of-way, containing the name and contact information of the managing agent responsible for the maintenance of the property. The sign shall be of a size and placed in such a location so as to be legible from the nearest public street, sidewalk, walkway, parking lot or sidewalk, whichever is nearer, but shall be no smaller than eight inches by 10 inches. The sign shall remain posted until the storefront is legally occupied. All signs posted pursuant to this section must comply with the regulations set forth in § 60-410.
All storefronts shall be kept in good repair, painted where required, and shall not be permitted to become a safety hazard or nuisance. In the event that repairs to a storefront become necessary, such repairs shall be made so as to permanently repair the damaged areas. Any cornice visible above a storefront shall be kept painted and otherwise in good condition and repair.
The owner of said vacant storefront shall remove all debris, trash, garbage and other material that may be visible to passersby from the street or adjacent sidewalk.
The initial and renewal fees for submittal of the vacant storefront registration statement shall be established by resolution of the Town Board in the Master Fee Schedule and may be amended from time to time by the Town Board.
Registration shall be renewed at the end of each twelve-month period following the initial registration if the storefront remains vacant. The annual registration fee shall be refunded if the property is leased within one year.
All revenues received from Chappaqua properties shall be used by Discover Chappaqua for programs that would market and promote the Chappaqua Hamlet. All revenues received from Millwood properties shall be used to beautify the Millwood Hamlet.
A vacant storefront shall be exempt from the payment of registration and renewal fees if, in the sole reasonable discretion of the Building Inspector, the property is the subject of any one or more of the following:
A valid open building permit or building permit application being pursued with diligence;
A pending land use application, including site plan, subdivision or special permit, which application is being pursued with diligence;
Utilization of the building by the Town of New Castle on a temporary basis; or
A valid written lease of at least one year.
Any person who fails to comply with any provision of this chapter or fails to comply with any notice, order or directive of the Building Inspector or his/her representative after expiration of the time for compliance established in accordance with this chapter shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not more than $250 for such violation. In the event of any failure to so comply, each month that such violation continues shall constitute a separate offense, and the penalties prescribed herein shall be applicable to each such separate offense.
The Town of New Castle shall establish a public online searchable vacant storefront registry. Such registry shall include all vacant storefronts registered with the Town of New Castle. The vacant storefront registry shall be available on the Town of New Castle website and at the Town of New Castle offices.