Levy proposed for vacant city propertiesBy Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | December 13,2012A proposed ordinance would charge the owners of vacant Rutland City properties a $500 fee.
The ordinance, the first product of the blighted properties steering committee, is expected to go before the Board of Aldermen on Monday; then it will likely be referred to the board’s Charter and Ordinance Committee.
The proposal also creates a registry of vacant properties in the city.
“What we’re looking for is the ability of the city to keep better track of what’s vacant,” said Brennan Duffy, executive director of the Rutland Redevelopment Authority.
The fee, he said, helps create a financial incentive against leaving a property vacant. Owners can get $450 back, Duffy said, if they demonstrate the property is being actively marketed, under renovation or slated for demolition. Duffy pointed out that the refund would apply to the vacant properties downtown.
“They are all being actively marketed by a responsible property owner,” he said.
The steering committee was formed from different elements of city government to look at procedures for addressing blighted properties. The building and zoning office has reported a total of 140 city properties have been abandoned by their owners, and the city recently took possession of an occupied apartment building, effectively abandoned by its owner following a tax sale.
A recent housing study suggested a number of strategies for neighborhood stabilization in Rutland and even suggested a neighborhood to start in — a section of the northwest quadrant.
One piece missing from the ordinance is the fine for not registering a vacant property and paying the fee. Duffy said that would be worked out, along with some language issues, before the board presentation Monday.
“This has been an ongoing process,” Duffy said. “I think this is a step in the right direction.”
The next step, he said, is for the committee to look at ways to encourage rehabilitation of blighted properties. He said he expected that work to start in January.
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