The West Virginia Housing Development Fund has begun accepting Request for Proposals for the new Code Enforcement Technical Assistance Support as part of the Property Rescue Initiative program. The Code Enforcement Technical Assistance program offers up to $10,000 in financial assistance to enhance existing or to create effective code enforcement for communities. The financing can be used for adopting and updating ordinances, procuring a certified code enforcement official, training in code enforcement procedures and practices, and personal certifications or department accreditation relevant to code enforcement.
PHOTO – A dilapidated home within the city of Fairmont
In Fairmont, over 300 buildings sit vacant, abandoned or dilapidated.
Some have sat for years in disrepair after their owners died or moved away. Others are owned by heirs who live out of state, and simply forgot about them.
But the residents who live next to them and the city government which has authority over them haven’t forgot.
“As people moved out, who was there to maintain their properties?” City Manager Robin Gomez said. “For many of them, nobody did.”
It may soon be more expensive — and more difficult — for a property owner to slowly sit on vacant or blighted property in the District. The D.C. Council will take a final vote Nov. 15 on the Vacant Property Enforcement Act of 2016, which was unanimously approved in its first pass by the council on Nov. 1. The legislation, introduced by Councilwoman Elissa Silverman , I-At large, and co-introduced by nine colleagues, would reduce the maximum amount of time a vacant property can qualify for an exemption from higher vacancy tax rates, close a loophole that allows continuous renewal of construction permits to qualify for tax exemptions and require owners of vacant properties to prove they are no longer subject to the higher tax rates. Read more here!
It will soon become harder for landlords to neglect vacant or blighted properties under a bill the D.C. Council unanimously passed today.
The measure—first introduced by At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman and co-sponsored by nine of her colleagues in December—seeks to maintain such buildings at higher property tax rates (5 and 10 percent more than standard for those determined to be vacant and blighted, respectively) until owners affirmatively prove to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs that they’ve abated issues. Current law requires that DCRA verify that buildings are vacant or blighted every six months, even when an owner has not indicated that they’ve made improvements. This has led to inconsistent enforcement of property laws and consumed inspectors’ time. Read more here!
WHEELING — Rep. David B. McKinley said Wednesday he’ll work with West Virginia’s next governor to push for expanded historic rehabilitation tax credits, while pressing Congress to follow suit. McKinley, R-W.Va., said these credits incentivize private development, and they advocate for the restoration of dormant downtown districts…He cited several local properties revived because of tax credits, and said these buildings now contribute to the revitalization of Wheeling. “How a community treats its downtown is a manifestation of how it thinks about economic development,” McKinley said. “It hurts me every time I see another building come down because I know they could be restored.” Read more here!
Charleston, WV Building Code officials seeking to enforce the city’s 2014 Vacant Building Registration Ordinance meet several significant challenges, such as deceased owners, demolition restrictions, and fickle tax-sale investors. Click here for the full story, which includes an interactive map of Charleston’s 500 registered vacant properties.
Huntington City Council approved an ordinance creating a vacant property register which includes an annual fee structure for properties remaining on the register longer than one year. Read the full story here.
In case you missed it — the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic at West Virginia University recently published a toolkit to help communities navigate the thorny issues around abandoned and neglected buildings. Click here for the background story.
To explore the online legal toolkit, which is called “From Liability to Viability: A Legal Toolkit to Address Neglected Properties in West Virginia,” or to download a free PDF, visit the LEAP website.
The City of Wheeling initiated its successful vacant property registration program in 2009 as a forward-thinking way to address the issue of abandoned and blighted buildings. Since an initial registry of nearly 400 properties, they have whittled the list down to 182 properties, highlighting the progress of the program over the first few years. Click here for the full story.