[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Beacon 10-3-1994 by L.L. No. 11-1994; amended in its entirety 5-16-2011 by L.L. No. 6-2011. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
Intent. It is the intention of the City of Beacon City Council to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the City of Beacon by adopting a local law designed to accomplish the following objectives:
Encourage the owners of vacant buildings to adequately secure them from vandals, trespassers and children;
Indentify and register vacant buildings to protect residential and commercial neighborhoods from becoming blighted through lack of adequate maintenance and security of abandoned buildings; and
Encourage the rehabilitation and reoccupancy of vacant buildings.
Findings. The City Council of the City of Beacon finds the following:
The City of Beacon currently has at least 75 vacant buildings within its jurisdiction.
Vacant buildings and structures are a danger to the public health, safety and welfare.
Vacant buildings can become a dumping ground for trash, rubbish and debris, a breeding ground for vermin and a gathering place for persons engaging in illegal activity.
Vacant buildings in a densely populated or densely developed area, such as the City of Beacon's downtown commercial district, increase concerns regarding public health, safety and welfare.
Vacant buildings are frequently the subject of vandalism and are commonly damaged by fire.
The presence of vacant buildings can lead to blight, decline in property values, aesthetic nuisances, general decrease in neighborhood and community aesthetics, and may discourage buyers from purchasing property within the City.
The City has an interest in protecting the City against decay caused by vacant buildings and concludes it is in the best interest of the City to impose a registration and inspection requirement for all vacant buildings.
Charging a registration fee will assist the City in offsetting the increased cost of inspections and enforcement related to vacant buildings.
The registration and inspection requirement will assist City officials in providing for public safety by monitoring vacant buildings for illegal activities or unsafe conditions.
This chapter shall apply to all buildings located in the City of Beacon.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- VACANT BUILDING
- Any building which is not occupied or put to its intended use for more than six months, except in the case of a building which is unoccupied or unused due to damage caused by an act of God in which case such building shall become vacant if unoccupied or unused for more than nine months. Two-family residential buildings, multifamily residential buildings and mixed-use buildings shall not be deemed vacant if at least one of the dwelling units is occupied. Nonresidential buildings shall not be deemed vacant if at least 25% of the building is occupied or put to its intended use.
All buildings or structures, regardless of uses or height, located in the City of Beacon which are vacant shall be maintained by the owner so as to prevent ingress into or egress from the building. All doors, windows and other means of ingress or egress shall be kept locked or secured. All garbage, debris and other combustible or flammable material shall be removed from the premises. This section shall apply to all commercial, industrial, and residential properties located throughout the City of Beacon.
At the sole, reasonable discretion of the Building Inspector of the City of Beacon, all utilities are to be disconnected or service discontinued at the curb or property line.
Where any door, window or other means of ingress into or egress from a vacant building or structure has become broken or open, the property owner shall promptly make repairs and the Building Inspector or Code Enforcement Officer may order the building or structure repaired so as to comply with the requirements of securing or boarding up as set forth in § 92-7 below.
Except for one locked exterior door, all openings shall be boarded up in accordance with § 92-7 below when deemed by the Building Inspector of the City of Beacon to be necessary for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare. Where the Building Inspector of the City of Beacon does not deem it necessary to board up windows or other openings in vacant buildings on Main Street and residential vacant buildings, such buildings shall maintain doors and glass windows in good condition appropriate to the architecture of the building and shall provide appropriate window dressings where the Building Inspector of the City of Beacon deems necessary to shield the public's view into the vacant building. Appropriate window dressings shall not include newspaper, white window paint or other similar means of concealing views into the vacant building. Notwithstanding the above, the openings of the building located at 1 East Main Street shall remain boarded so long as the murals painted on the boards remain in good condition.
The method used in boarding up any building or structure, regardless of use or height, shall be as follows:
All broken glass shall be removed from doors or windows of said building or structure.
All openings shall be fitted with boards cut to actual size with new material of either plywood or pressboard having a minimum thickness of 1/2 inch and retained in place by affixing two inches by four inches top, bottom and center on the exterior in a neat and workmanlike manner.
All plywood or pressboard used in boarding up shall be painted in a color and quality of paint subject to the approval of the Building Inspector.
Where a vacant building includes a storefront that is visible from the street or adjacent sidewalk, the owner of said vacant building shall remove all debris, trash, garbage and other material that may be visible to passersby from the street or adjacent sidewalk. There shall be no newspapers or other temporary window covering on store windows, such that the interior of the store is not visible from the street or adjacent sidewalk, for more than 90 days.
Registration. The owner of a vacant building shall register the property with the Building Department of the City of Beacon within 90 days of the effective date of this chapter and thereafter immediately upon a building becoming vacant, on a form provided by the Building Department of the City of Beacon. The registration form shall be known as the "Vacant Building Registration Statement," which shall be signed by the owner under oath and shall be submitted with the requisite fee as set forth in the fee schedule of the City of Beacon and shall contain the following information:
A description of the premises by street number or block and lot number, including tax identification number;
The owner's name, mailing address, physical address, e-mail address, and telephone numbers, including home, work and cellular, and if such owner is a corporation or other organization, the name, mailing address, physical address, e-mail address, and telephone numbers including home, work and cellular of the officer or agent of the corporation or organization; and
Statement of owner's intent of future use of property and efforts being made to have the property reoccupied.
Editor's Note: The fee schedule is on file in the City offices.
Posting of sign. Upon registration the owner shall post a sign along the frontage of the property in a location clearly visible from the street containing the name and twenty-four-hour contact information of the managing agent responsible for the maintenance of the property. The contact information shall be clearly visible from the street. Multifamily dwellings that remain partially occupied shall not be required to post a sign as required by this section.
Fees; renewal; refunds; lien for nonpayment of fees.
[Amended 11-5-2012 by L.L. No. 25-2012; 8-19-2013 by L.L. No. 13-2013]
Registration shall be renewed at the end of each six-month period following the initial registration if the building remains vacant.
The initial registration and renewal fees may be reduced by 50% in the sole and reasonable discretion of the Building Inspector of the City of Beacon upon a finding that:
The property is listed for sale or rent with a licensed real estate broker or, in the case of single- and two-family homes only, when the property is listed for sale or rent by owner;
The property is included on the Multiple Listing Service, unless the property is being offered for sale or rent by owner;
The property is listed for sale or rent at fair market value. In determining fair market value, the Building Inspector shall consult with the City Assessor and shall take into account the property owner's purchase price and costs of improvement; and
The property is posted with a standard-sized real estate sign, readable from a public right-of-way, advertising the property for sale or rent.
A vacant building 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 being pursued with diligence;
A pending land use application, including site plan, subdivision or special permit, which application is being pursued with diligence;
A pending application to a governmental body being pursued with diligence for an approval pertaining to the physical improvement of the property; or
Utilization of the building by the City of Beacon on a temporary basis not to exceed six months for City purposes including, but not limited to, fire training.
If the building is reoccupied within the six-month registration period, the owner shall be entitled to a prorated refund on the fee paid for such period.
In the event the owner fails to register a vacant building or fails to renew the registration for a building that remains vacant, as determined by the Building Inspector of the City of Beacon, the Building Inspector of the City of Beacon 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 or the total amount of such fees due and owing will become a lien upon the property. If the initial registration fee and/or registration renewal fees are not paid within 30 days after the date of such notice, the fees shall become and be a lien upon the property on which the vacant building is located, and the total amount thereof, including any civil penalties certified by the City of Beacon Building Inspector pursuant to § 92-9.1, shall be added to or become a part of the next annual assessment roll at the time and in the manner prescribed by the Charter of the City and subject to all the provisions thereof. The fees eligible to become and be a lien upon the property shall include, as applicable, the initial registration fee and the renewal fees for each six-month period the building remains vacant, as determined by the City of Beacon Building Inspector, following the initial registration.
Designation of managing agent.
In the event an owner does not reside within a fifteen-mile radius of the City of Beacon, the owner shall designate a managing agent for the vacant building who shall reside within a fifteen-mile radius of the City of Beacon and who shall be a natural person at least 18 years of age and who shall be responsible for and in control of the maintenance and operation of such vacant building and who shall be designated as the person upon whom process may be served on behalf of the owner. The owner shall provide the Building Department of the City of Beacon with the name, mailing address, physical address, e-mail address, telephone numbers, including home, work and cellular, and fax number of the designated managing agent of the vacant building.
The owner shall keep the name, mailing address, physical address, e-mail address, telephone numbers, and fax number of the managing agent current and, when there is a change in the managing agent or the contact information for the managing agent, the owner shall update such information by amending the vacant building registration statement within 15 days from the date of any such change.
Notification of changes to vacant building registration statement.
The owner of the vacant building shall notify the Building Department of the City of Beacon, in writing, whenever the information provided in the vacant building registration statement is no longer accurate or complete.
If, after filing the vacant building registration statement pursuant to this chapter, the owner of such vacant building shall have transferred or granted to another his/her right, title or interest therein, such owner shall file with the Building Department of the City of Beacon, within 15 days after such grant or transfer, a written statement, under oath, which shall contain the name, mailing address, physical address, e-mail address, telephone number, and fax number of the grantee, transferee or other successor to the owner or, if such grantee, transferee or successor is a corporation or other organization, the owner shall also provide the name of the chief corporate officer. If the owner is unable to secure the foregoing information from the grantee, transferee or purchaser, then the owner shall immediately so notify the Building Department of the City of Beacon, in writing, of such inability.
Inspections; protecting building from illegal activities and unsafe conditions. The Building Inspector of the City of Beacon shall conduct an exterior inspection of each registered vacant building at least once per month to monitor for illegal activities or unsafe conditions which may contribute to blight. The Building Inspector shall promptly notify the owner upon the finding of any illegal activities or unsafe conditions which may contribute to blight. The owner shall secure the building and remedy any unsafe condition within 10 days of notice thereof.
The Building Inspector and/or Code Enforcement Officer shall have the authority to ascertain and order the removal by the owner, agent, operator or occupant of any and all violations on the property, premises, sidewalks, structures and structural appurtenances that may endanger the public health, safety and welfare or may depreciate property values in the neighborhood of the offending structure due to objects, materials and conditions on the offending premises.
The actual cost to the City of any work done pursuant to this section, plus a sum equal to 5% of such actual cost for inspection and other additional costs in connection therewith, together with any penalties as set forth in § 92-10 in the amount of $100 shall be certified by the Building Inspector to the City Administrator, and the amount thereof shall become and be a lien upon the property on which said work was performed by the City, and the total amount thereof shall be added to or become a part of the next annual assessment roll at the time and in the manner prescribed by the Charter of the City and subject to all the provisions thereof.
Any person who violates this chapter shall be liable for an administrative civil penalty of $100 per day for each day's violation after service of an order to remedy by the Building Inspector or Code Enforcement Officer. The imposition of the civil penalty shall be made by the Building Inspector after giving the property owner sufficient opportunity to comply with this chapter in the said order to remedy.
If any clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part of any section shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraphs, section or part thereof directly involved in the controversy and in which such judgment shall have been rendered.