OSWEGO, NY – The Port City had no local law dealing with the blight of vacant buildings, until Monday.
The council voted unanimously to approve the amendment to the Code of the City of Oswego, Chapter 85, Buildings, Vacant.
The amendment addresses vacant buildings. Buildings that are not being occupied, are unsecured and basically abandoned, explained Connie Cosemento, chair of the Quality of Life Committee.
“By all accounts, vacant properties are a curse,” she told the council. ”Just ask anyone who lives next to (one). Research shows that vacant properties are an expense that local governments simply cannot afford.”
Vacant buildings do have a detrimental affect on communities, First Ward Councilor Fran Enwright agreed.
Some times, their taxes are paid and the city hasn’t any legal recourse; yet some are failing down and there are animals living inside, “and some of these buildings are within feet of other residences and people live in fear of their life, fear of fire. So, this is something we need. I’m very pleased to support,” he said.
The purpose of this chapter of the code is to establish a program for identifying and registering vacant buildings, to determine the responsibilities of the owners of vacant buildings and structures and to facilitate the rehabilitation of the vacant properties, Cosemento explained.
Prior to adoption of this amendment, the only part of the city code dealing with such properties stated that a vacant property must be sealed, she said.
Under the new code, a property that has been vacant for 30 days must be registered with the city and submit a plan as to what the owner plans to do with the property. It can be demolished, secured and maintained or returned to its appropriate occupancy or use by the owner (or sold to a new owner).
At the committee level, councilors included “at fair market value” in the section dealing with attempts to sell the building. And, they upped the level of the fine to $250.
If the owner doesn’t abide by the requirements of the code, then fines start to kick in, Cosemento said.