by Brian Chambers, Director of Communications City of Huntington

HUNTINGTON -- The City of Huntington would like to remind property owners that they are now required to register their vacant buildings with the city’s Legal Department.

Huntington City Council adopted an ordinance establishing a vacant buildings registry that took effect on Jan. 27, 2016. The purpose of the ordinance is to keep unoccupied buildings in a safe, well-maintained condition and prevent them from becoming a safety hazard and lowering values of surrounding properties.

 

Under the ordinance, owners of residential or commercial structures must register their buildings if the buildings have been 100 percent vacant for 30 or more days. Those who fail to register will receive a notification from the City of Huntington’s Legal Department. If the owner still does not comply, the city will register the building for him or her and will levy a fine of at least $100.

 

Registration waivers may be granted if the owner provides satisfactory proof that the vacancy is temporary and may be due to illness of the owner, active military service or some other reasonable explanation believed to be short-term in nature and documentable as necessary.

 

As of March 23, 93 vacant buildings were self-reported by their owners, while another 100 notifications had been mailed to property owners.

 

After a vacant building is placed on the registry, the city’s Inspection Division will inspect the property to ensure it is secure and safe from water damage. The Legal Department will notify the property owner of any maintenance issues, and citations will be issued if the property is not brought into compliance.

A residential or commercial building must be occupied for 11 consecutive months for it to be taken off the vacant buildings registry. The city will require the property owner to pay a fee if his or her building has been on the registry for one year.

 

The fee will be based on the building’s square footage – 40 cents per square foot in the city’s business district and 20 cents per square foot in all other areas – and will increase incrementally each year. The city’s business district is defined as between 1st and 22nd streets from 6th to 12th avenues and parts of 3rd, 4th and 5th avenues; Hal Greer Boulevard from Washington Boulevard to 5 ½ Alley; and 14th Street West from Washington Avenue to the railroad tracks along Van Buren Avenue. Those with specific questions about whether a vacant property is in the city’s business district can call the City Planner’s Office at 304-696-4438.

 

Fees will be billed annually. The Legal Department will file lawsuits against those who do not pay the fee and place liens on their property.

 

Property owners can register their vacant buildings by calling the Legal Department at 304-696-4480 or by filling out a form online at http://www.cityofhuntington.com/document-center/legal-1. Click on “Vacant Building Registration Form” and email the completed form to vacantbuildingregistry@cityofhuntington.com.