Vacant buildings in Gloversville face ticketing

GLOVERSVILLE – The city may soon begin to ticket property owners who have not responded to letters about their vacant buildings.

City Attorney Anthony Casale said Tuesday the city would begin sending out summons by the end of the year for owners who do not respond.

The council approved a measure creating a vacant building ordinance that includes a vacant building registry, a registration fee and a requirement that owners provide a plan for their vacant buildings. The new law considers a building vacant if no one lives in it or occupies it for 30 days.

Buildings damaged by fire or natural disasters are exempt for 90 days.

The ordinance applies to both houses and commercial buildings.

“It was something that was contemplated when we were drafting this ordinance that we were going to have to chase some people to get them to be in compliance,” Casale said.

He said reminder letters have already been sent out, with him suggesting warning letters be sent out stating the registry forms must be completed within 30 days before a appearance tickets would be issued.

“It’s not a small thing to have a couple hundred of these cases in court,” Casale said.

Casale said the city wants to see people comply without having to resort to court appearances. Casale said the fines for non-compliance are up to $1,000 a day along with other processing fees incurred. Casale said the tickets won’t be dismissed absent some extraordinary circumstance.

“If people who are not in compliance want to avoid fines, then they should really get in compliance and not wait for the appearance tickets to be issued,” Casale said. “These people either need to get in compliance or face the consequences.”

First Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss said of the more than 360 vacant buildings, only 39 have returned their paperwork.

“That’s less than 11 percent,” Weiss said. “That’s a pretty poor showing. I think if we’re going to make these laws where we’re going to say what we need to do to have it happen, then we need to have a more solid follow-up.”

Weiss said the recent award a $150,000 grant to pay for a new Neighborhood Quality Administrator in the city could help see more compliance with the regulation.

The Neighborhood Quality Administration will be a part of the code enforcement team.

“It upset me to only see 39 people are following the law,” Weiss said.

Kerry Minor can be reached at [email protected].

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