Danville Considers Tweaking Vacant Building Ordinance

November 21, 2011

Danville landlords complained about the vacant building ordinance passed a couple of years ago. Now, the Danville City Council is considering some of their suggested changes.

City officials intended to crack down on neglected buildings by imposing a $500 fee if such buildings weren't fixed up within a year. But Corporation Counsel David Wesner said the revised ordinance would allow a longer repair period, if the building owner submits a progress plan to the city. Wesner said if passed, landlords would no longer be limited to a specific time period for making repairs, as long as work was being done in a reasonable period of time.

"What we're saying is that we understand that it may take you eight more months besides the first six to get that roof replaced," Wesner said. "Under this language, that would be OK, whereas before, they would not."

Danville Area Landlord Association Vice President Jerry Hawker welcomes the proposal. He said the one-year requirement --- which included a $500 annual fee for buildings that were repaired on time--- ended up driving landlords away from Danville properties.

"A lot of landlords just quit buying the fix up houses that they knew would take more than a year to fix up," Hawker said. "So those houses have just been sitting vacant. I think this is a very positive step both for the landlords and for the city. "

The proposed changes also include a tighter definition of a vacant building to mean one that is not only legally unoccupied, but also determined to be unsafe, or not properly secured.

Wesner said they incorporated some, but not all of the changes proposed by the Landlord Association into the measure. Hawker said the measure is a result of improved relations between the Landlord Association and Danville city officials.

The proposal goes before the Danville City Council Public Services Committee Tuesday evening.

Story source: WILL