City of Troy Can Apply for VPR Waivers

On January 5, published an article entitled City of Troy Property Owners Can Apply for Vacant Building Fee Waiver.

City of Troy property owners can apply for vacant building fee waiver

TROY -- The city is preparing to send out information next week explaining how property owners can waive vacant building fees, according to city officials.

The ordinance, which was proposed by Councilwoman Nina Nichols, D-At Large, was passed in September after being tweaked a few times. The primary purpose waiving the fees is to encourage owners of vacant properties to use the money they’d usually spend on paying off the vacant buildings fee into revitalizing the building or fixing it up to be sold to a homeowner.

After property owners register their property on the vacant building checklist, the city charges a fee of $500 in the first year, $1,000 in the second, $1,500 in the third and $2,000 in the fourth and proceeding years.

“Troy has a lot of vacant properties and we continue to look for creative solutions,” Nichols said.

Planning and Economic Development Commissioner Bill Dunne said the department has been busy with other projects since the legislation had passed but said property owners will be able to apply for the waiver starting next week. The annual newsletter will be sent out to residents and property owners with instructing on how to apply for the waiver attached.

“It will be retroactive to the start of the year,” Dunne said. “As long as you come in and apply during the month of January, it will be retroactive to the month of January.”

While residents can go to the Code Enforcement Department to easily apply for the waiver, receiving it comes with a few strings attached.

Nichols said an owner must fix up his or her property so it can be inspected and receive a certificate of occupancy.

The other option is preparing the property to be sold, meaning it is advertised on at least five websites, a for sale sign placed out front and it must be listed for a price that doesn’t exceed more than 135 percent of its assessed value.

If a property set up for sale is not sold during the waiver period but did comply with regulations, its owners will have to re-apply for the waiver the following year and must comply with its terms again.

For owners looking to rehabilitate the building, Nichols said they must submit a written plan and complete work being done during the time allotted in the waiver. The plan also must include photographic documentation of the areas where proposed work will be done, a project schedule and the estimated cost of the project. Nichols added quarterly reports outlining the completed work must be filed no later than 10 days before the close of each calendar quarter.

Councilman Mark McGrath, R-District 2, was unhappy about the form not being ready for the start of the year, especially after hearing a resident was already granted the waiver while others were still unaware of the legislation. He quickly raised his concern that the law was created for select people, something Nichols vehemently denied.

Nichols said she was aware of the resident who was seeking the waiver, though both her and Dunne are unsure if it was ever granted, but said she lobbied for the person not to receive it since the waiver application process was not fully ready.

McGrath, though, wanted to make sure people were aware this process is available to them, and that everyone is treated fairly.

“I want it to be applied and applied fairly to everyone across the board,” McGrath said.

Nichols assured this would be the case, as she said her intention was to spur more rehabilitation in the city and take care of the blights plaguing many communities.

“I most certainly didn’t write this to help specific individuals,” Nichols said. “The idea was to give an incentive for people to improve their properties.”

To view the online article, please click here.

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