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Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Section 825, Vacant Buildings shall be added to read:

825.01 Policy Findings

The city council finds, determines and declares that buildings which remain vacant and unoccupied for any appreciable period of time become an attractive nuisance to children, a harborage for rodents, and invitation to derelicts, vagrants and criminals as a temporary abode, and an increased fire hazard, and increased risk of explosion due to the theft of internal piping, and that the unkept grounds surrounding such property invite the dumping of garbage and rubbish thereon; that such buildings are permitted to become dilapidated since such buildings are often economically obsolete and the owners of such buildings are unwilling to expend the necessary funds to repair or raze the buildings; that such buildings contribute to the growth of blight within the city, depress market values of surrounding properties to the detriment of the various taxing districts and require additional governmental services; that the use and maintenance of property in such condition and manner endangers the public safety and health, constitutes an unreasonable use and condition to the annoyance, discomfort and repose of a considerable number of the public, is detrimental to the public good and to the common welfare; and renders a considerable number of the public insecure in the use and enjoyment of their property, and thus may constitute a nuisance condition. Adequate protection of public health, safety and welfare, therefore, requires the establishment and enforcement of the means by which such nuisance conditions may be abated.

825.02 Definitions

For the purpose of this section the following words shall have the meanings specified below:

Subd. 1 Dangerous Structure. "Dangerous Structure" shall mean a structure that is potentially hazardous to persons or property, including, but not limited to:

a. A structure which is in danger of partial or complete collapse;

b. A structure with any exterior parts which are loose or in danger of falling; or

c. A structure with any parts, such as floors, porches, railings, stairs, ramps, balconies or roofs, which are accessible and which are either collapsed, in danger of collapsing or unable to support the weight of normally imposed loads.

Subd. 2 Enforcement Officer. "Enforcement Officer" shall mean a person designated by the City Administrator to administer and enforce this code, or his or her designee.

Subd. 3 Owner. "Owner" shall mean a person who, alone, jointly, or severally with others, shall be in actual possession of, or have charge, care, or control of, any dwelling or dwelling unit within the City as owner, employee, or agent of the owner, or as trustee or guardian of the estate of person of the title holder. A person representing the actual owner must comply with the provisions of this code to the same extent as the owner.

Subd. 4 Secured by Other than Normal Means. "Secured by Other than Normal Means" shall mean a building secured by means other than those used in the design of the building.

Subd. 5 Unoccupied. "Unoccupied" shall mean a building which is not being used for legal occupancy.

Subd. 6 Unsecured. "Unsecured" shall mean a building or portion of a building that is open to entry by unauthorized persons without the use of tools.

Subd. 7 Vacant Building. "Vacant Building" shall mean a building or portion of a building that is:

a. Unoccupied and unsecured for ninety (90) days or more

b. Unoccupied and secured by other than normal means for ninety (90) days or more

c. Unoccupied and a dangerous structure

d. Unoccupied and posted for no occupancy or unfit for human habitation

e. Unoccupied and has a City Code violation(s)

f. Condemned and illegally occupied

825.03 Vacant Building Registration

Subd. 1 The owner of a vacant building shall register such structure with the City no later than ninety (90) days after said building becomes a vacant building.

Subd. 2 The registration shall be submitted on forms provided by the City and shall include the following:

a. A description of the premises;

b. The names and addresses of the owner or owners;

c. The names and addresses of all known lien holders and all other parties with an ownership interest in the building;

d. The period of time the building is expected to remain vacant

e. A plan and timetable for returning the building to appropriate occupancy and/or making the structure compliant with all City ordinances or for demolition of the building. The plan must be approved by the City and shall require completion of the plan within a reasonable period of time not to exceed three hundred sixty-five (365) days. Such plan shall include all conditions that are to be corrected, the estimated value of the project(s) required to complete the plan and a plan for continued care and upkeep of the property.

f. Other information deemed necessary by the City to process the registration.

Subd. 3 The owner shall comply with all applicable laws and codes and shall notify the City of any changes in information supplied as part of the vacant building registration within thirty (30) days of the change. If the plan or timetable for the vacant building is revised in any way, such revisions must meet the approval of the City.

Subd. 4 The owner and any subsequent owners shall keep the vacant building secured and safe and the building and grounds maintained until the rehabilitation or demolition has been completed.

Subd. 5 Failure of the owner or subsequent owners to maintain the building and premises as outlined in Section 811 of the City of Newport Code such that abatement by the City is required shall be grounds for revocation of the approved plan and the owner shall be subject to any applicable penalties provided by laws.

Subd. 6 Any new owner(s) shall register or re-register the vacant building with the City within thirty (30) days of any transfer of an ownership interest in a 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 to and approved by the City.

Subd. 7 Vacant Building Fees:

a. The owner(s) of a vacant building shall pay an annual fee as established in the Annual Fee Schedule that is set by the City Council. This fee is imposed to defray the administrative costs for registering and processing the vacant building registration form and the costs of the City in monitoring the vacant building site.

b. The first annual registration fee shall be paid no longer than ninety (90) days after the building becomes vacant. Subsequent annual registration fees shall be due on the anniversary date of initial vacancy.

c. The registration fee shall be paid in full prior to the issuance of any building permits, with the exception of a demolition permit.

d. 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 thirty (30) days after the transfer of ownership.

Subd. 8 Posting of Registration

a. Proof of registration must be posted in public view at the vacant building site within ten (10) days after receipt of the registration

b. Failure to post proof of registration as provided in this section shall be considered a separate violation.

825.04 Collection of Unpaid Fees

Subd. 1 Written Notice

a. The City shall, in addition to any other action the City may undertake, serve written notice of the fees in conformance with the requirements set forth in this chapter.

b. Notice for collection of fees shall include the amount of the vacant building fee that is the responsibility of the building owner and a statement that the fee shall be paid within the time period identified in the notice.

Subd. 2 Fee and Liability - The City shall be entitled to collect the costs of vacant building registration and monitoring. The fees associated with the vacant building program shall be a debt owed to the City and unpaid costs shall be collected by special assessment under the authority in Minnesota Statutes, Section 429.101.

825.05 Inspections

A vacant building owner shall provide access to all interior portions of an unoccupied building in order to permit a complete inspection for the purpose of enforcing and assuring compliance with the provision set forth in this section.

825.06 Exemptions

The following are exempt from the Vacant Property registration and fee requirements:

a. All vacant property owned by the City of Newport.

b. Any vacant property for which the owner possesses a valid building permit for remodeling the dwelling located thereon or for construction of a new dwelling on such vacant property.

c. Any vacant property for which the owner possesses a valid rental licensed issued by the City of Newport, which is actively marketed as "for rent" in a newspaper or in an online listing. It is the responsibility of the vacant property owner to produce evidence of active marketing to claim this exemption. In the event that the rental license lapses, is suspended, or revoked, this exemption shall no longer apply, and the vacant property shall be registered and all fees paid immediately.

d. Any home which is being actively marketed as "for sale" at a reasonable price by a licensed real estate broker or by the owner. It is the responsibility of the vacant property owner to produce evidence of active marketing to claim this exemption. An asking price not greater than 150% of the taxable market value, as determined by Washington County Property Tax records, is presumptively a "reasonable price."

825.07 Notification

The City shall maintain a current list, updated monthly, of all vacant properties which have become known to the City.

825.08 Alternative Procedures

Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to abolish or impair existing remedies available to the City under its code or State Law.

825.09 Penalties

Any person in violation of any of the provisions in this Chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Each day on which such violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.

Effective Date

This Ordinance becomes effective upon its passage and publication according to law.

Adopted by the City Council of the City of Newport, Minnesota on the 1st day of December 2011.