Mason City Approves Vacant Building Registration in Effort to Combat Blight
February 14, 2023
The Mason City Council has approved a new ordinance requiring the registration of vacant commercial properties.
According to a memorandum from Director of Development Services Steven Van Steenhuyse, “A vacant building registration requirement keeps an owner on notice that the city expects vacant properties to be kept safe and productive, and that long-term vacancy is not in the best interest of the community.”
The ordinance applies to commercial properties. Within 120 days of vacancy, property owners must register for a vacant building permit. Proof of insurance is required. Vacant buildings will be assessed a fee of $250 in the first year, $500 in the second year and $750 per year thereafter.
There are a number of exemptions for owners of vacant real estate provided they meet certain requirements. A building that is being renovated is exempt for as long as the building permit is valid. A structure that has been damaged by fire, flood or other means is exempt as long as demolition has been scheduled within six months. In addition, exemptions apply to properties that are being actively marketed for no more than 150% of their current assessed value. According to administrators, this prevents overpricing a building to discourage its sale.
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