Vacant and Abandoned Building Ordinance #2844

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NO. 2844
 
AN ORDINANCE ADDING CHAPTER 51 (VACANT AND ABANDONED STRUCTURES) TO TITLE 15 OF THE LIVONIA CODE OF ORDINANCES, AS AMENDED.
 
 

THE CITY OF LIVONIA ORDAINS:

 
Section 1. Chapter 51 is hereby added to Title 15 of the Livonia Code of Ordinances, as amended, which chapter shall read as follows:
 
CHAPTER 15.51
 
VACANT AND ABANDONED STRUCTURES
 
Sections:
      15.51.010      Findings.
      15.51.020      Definitions.
      15.51.030      Registration.
      15.51.040      Registration information.
      15.51.050      Registration and administrative fee.
      15.51.060      Recovery of fees.
      15.51.070      Securing structures.
      15.51.080      Right of entry and inspection.
      15.51.090      Reuse and occupancy.
      15.51.100      Responsibility for violations.
      15.51.110      Penalty.
 
      15.51.010 Findings. The City Council determines that the presence of vacant and abandoned structures creates blight. It is recognized that blight lowers property values, leads to deteriorating conditions, undermines the quality of life, affects the public health, safety and general welfare and also results in human injury and criminal activities. It is also determined that vacant and unoccupied structures demand an inordinate amount of City administrative and ordinance enforcement resources. As such, the City Council finds the prolonged presence of vacant and abandoned structures to be unacceptable to the citizens of Livonia.
 
 
 
      15.51.020 Definitions. As used in this chapter:
 
      A.        “Abandoned commercial structure” means and includes:
 
1.         Any single tenant building located in  a C-1, C-2, C-3, or C-4 zoned district which has been unoccupied by a tenant for a period of ninety (90) consecutive days or which satisfies one of the supplementary conditions defined in Section 15.51.020(I)(1) through (11); or
 
2.         Any multi-tenant building located in a C-1, C-2, C-3, or C-4 zoned district which is more than fifty percent (50%) unoccupied for a period of ninety (90) consecutive days or which satisfies one of the supplementary conditions defined in Section 15.51.020(I)(1) through (11).
 
B.        “Abandoned office structure” means and includes:
 
1.         Any single tenant building located in an OS or PO zoned district which has been unoccupied by a tenant for a period of ninety (90) consecutive days or which satisfies one of the supplementary conditions defined in Section 15.51.020(I)(1) through (11); or
 
2.         Any multi-tenant building located in an OS or PO zoned district which is more than fifty percent (50%) unoccupied for a period of ninety (90) consecutive days or which satisfies one of the supplementary conditions defined in Section 15.51.020(I)(1) through (11).
 
C.        “Abandoned industrial structure” means and includes:
 
1.         Any single tenant building located in a ML, M-1, or M-2 zoned district which has been unoccupied by a tenant for a period of ninety (90) consecutive days or which satisfies one of the supplementary conditions defined in Section 15.51.020(I)(1) through (11); or
 
2.         Any multi-tenant building located in a ML, M-1, or M-2 zoned district which is more than fifty percent (50%) unoccupied for a period of ninety (90) consecutive days or which satisfies one of the supplementary conditions defined in Section 15.51.020(I)(1) through (11).
 
D.        “Abandoned residential structure” means any building which has been used or was intended for use as a residential dwelling, in whole or in part, including an accessory building, which has become vacant or abandoned for a period of at least twenty-eight (28) consecutive days or which also meets at least one of the following conditions:
 
1.         Is open to casual entry or trespass;
 
2.         Is damaged by fire, flood, weather, or vandalism to an extent which prohibits safe human occupancy;
 
3.         Is the site of loitering or vagrancy;
 
4.         Demonstrates a lack of property maintenance and upkeep as evidenced by one or more violations of the City Property Maintenance Code or State Construction Code;
 
5.         Is under notice for being in violation of City ordinances;
 
6.         Has been secured or boarded up for at least twenty-eight (28) days;
 
7.         Has taxes in arrears to the City for a period of time exceeding three hundred sixty-five (365) days;
 
8.         Has utilities disconnected or not in use;
 
9.         Is under a condemnation notice or legal order to vacate;
 
10.       Is structurally unsound; or
 
11.       Is a potential hazard or danger to persons.
     
      E.        “Abandoned structure” means and includes an abandoned residential, commercial, office, or industrial structure as defined herein.
 
      F.         “Accessory building” means a subordinate structure on the same premises as the main structure, the use of which would be naturally and normally incidental to that of the main structure, whether the main structure is an abandoned structure or not, such as, but not limited to, a garage, barn or storage shed.
 
      G.        “Owner” means any person with a legal or equitable ownership interest in the structure.
 
      H.        “Secured” means a building which has all points of entry into the structure either:
 
1.         Closed by use of windows and doors which are in proper working order, intact, without holes, broken elements, and are locked; or
 
2.         Secured by exterior grade plywood in compliance with this chapter.
 
      I.          “Supplementary conditions” shall mean and include the following:
 
1.         Is open to casual entry or trespass;
 
2.         Is damaged by fire, flood, weather, or vandalism;
 
3.         Is the site of loitering or vagrancy;
 
4.         Demonstrates a lack of property maintenance and upkeep as evidenced by one or more violations of the Property Maintenance Code, Fire Prevention Code, Heating Code, Building Code, or State Construction Code;
 
5.         Is under notice for being in violation of a City ordinance;
 
6.         Has been secured or boarded up for at least ninety (90) days;
 
7.         Has taxes in arrears to the City for more than three hundred sixty-five (365) days;
 
8.         Has utilities disconnected or not in use;
 
9.         Is under a condemnation notice or legal order to vacate;
 
10.       Is structurally unsound; or,
 
11.       Is a potential hazard or danger to persons.
 
      15.51.030 Registration. Owners of abandoned structures shall register such properties with the City and pay a monthly administration fee as set forth in 15.51.050.  The duty to register an abandoned structure shall not require prior notice to the owner by the City.  Registration of an abandoned structure does not preclude the City from taking appropriate actions to secure the property or to issue orders to repair or abate dangerous, hazardous or unlawful conditions or from acting to eliminate an imminent hazard to public health and safety.
 
      15.51.040 Registration information. 
 
      A.        For each abandoned structure each owner shall register with the City and provide the following information on an Abandoned Structure Registration Form available from the City:
 
1.         The address of the abandoned structure;
 
2.         The legal names of all owners of the property and each owner’s date of birth, if applicable;
 
3.         The complete mailing address of all owners;
 
4.         Telephone numbers of each owner, including cell phone and mobile phone numbers;
 
5.         Proof of identification of each owner;
 
6.         The name, address and telephone number of any local agent or representative authorized by the owner to handle the affairs of the property;
 
7.         The reason for vacancy of the property;
 
8.         The estimated length of time the property is expected to remain vacant; and
 
9.         Any plans for restoration, reuse or removal with an accompanying timeline and work schedule.
 
B.        An owner shall notify the City and file an amended form within seven (7) days of any change in the registration information required by this section.
 
      15.51.050 Registration and administrative fee. 
 
      A.        An owner of an abandoned structure, whether registered or not, shall pay an abandoned structure registration fee and a monthly administrative fee for the time during which such structure remains an abandoned structure. The abandoned structure registration fee and monthly administrative fee shall be the same amount as the Inspection Department Administrative Fee established in 15.56.015(A) of the Livonia Code of Ordinances.
 
B.        Fees under this section shall be established to support the services rendered by the City in the course of its duties related to abandoned structures.  Failure to register an abandoned structure or pay the monthly administrative fee shall be cause for penalties to be assessed and are criminal violations of this chapter. 
 
C.        The monthly administrative fee shall be paid so that it is received by the City on or before the seventh day of each month, following each month during which the structure was an abandoned structure for fifteen (15) days or more.
 
D.        A late fee, in an amount equal to fifty percent (50%) of the Inspection Department Administrative Fee rounded up to the next whole dollar amount shall also be payable by an owner of an abandoned structure when the monthly administrative fee is not paid by the due date referenced in 15.51.050(C) of the Livonia Code of Ordinances.
 
      15.51.060 Recovery of fees. If all or part of the fees required by this chapter are not paid or are overdue, the City may recover such sums by filing suit against the owner for entry of civil money judgment or any other means available by law. The City shall be entitled to all attorney fees and costs incurred in obtaining a warrant or to obtain a judgment against an owner for any overdue or unpaid fee associated with any abandoned structure.
 
      15.51.070 Securing structures. 
 
      A.        Unless otherwise specified by the Building Inspection Department, a City order to secure an abandoned structure shall be complied with by the owner within seventy-two (72) hours.  If the securing has not been completed or does not comply with the requirements for securing the structure under this chapter, the City may secure the structure and bill the owner of record for all costs incurred, including service fee and administrative costs.  The amount so billed shall constitute a personal debt of the owner and may be recovered in the same manner as permitted for the recovery of fees under this chapter.
 
B.        All points of entry on an abandoned structure that are suitable for animal or human entry shall be secured as follows:
 
1.         Unless otherwise specified by the Building Inspection Department, on all first story and ground accessible points of entry, such shall be secured by use of exterior grade plywood or its equivalent, of at least one-half inch thickness, cut to the size of the opening and secured by the use of Phillips-headed two-inch long screws; and
 
2.         Unless otherwise specified by the Building Inspection Department, on entry points being secured above the first story or were not accessible from ground level, such shall be secured by use of exterior grade plywood or its equivalent of at least one-half inch thickness, cut to the size of the opening and secured by the use of 16 penny common nails.
 
      15.51.080 Right of entry and inspection. If the owner has failed to secure a property the City may, after obtaining a warrant, enter to secure the structure or reenter the structure to conduct necessary inspections to ensure compliance with the requirements of this chapter and to determine if there are any emergency or hazardous conditions.
 
      15.51.090  Reuse and re-occupancy.  
 
      A.        Re-occupancy of abandoned residential structure. No abandoned residential structure shall be reoccupied until it has been inspected and found to be in full compliance with all applicable City and State Codes and a Final Inspection Certificate is issued by the City; all fees are paid in full; and all other conditions set forth in this subsection are satisfied.
 
      B.        Special inspections of abandoned residential structure. In addition to the fees set forth in 15.51.050 of the Livonia Code of Ordinances, the owner of an abandoned  residential structure shall obtain and pay for special inspections as set forth in 15.56.020(I)(1) of the Livonia Code of Ordinances, including but not limited to Building, Electrical, HVAC and Plumbing inspections. The owner of an abandoned residential structure shall obtain all necessary permits and pay all related fees in full, for work identified as being necessary during a special inspection. Permits shall be obtained and all fees paid in full for any work previously completed without the requisite permit.   Each inspection shall be conducted and approved in accordance with the Livonia Code of Ordinances, State Codes, Property Maintenance Code, Fire Prevention Code, and Heating Code.
 
      C.        Certificate of re-occupancy for abandoned residential structure. A certificate of re-occupancy shall be issued after all of the following conditions are fully satisfied:
 
1.         All fees, including but not limited to late charges and re-inspection fees are paid in full;
 
2.         All inspections and approvals have been obtained from the Director of Inspection;
 
3.         The fee for the final inspection certificate, set forth in 15.56.020(G)(3) has been paid in full; and,
 
4.         All outstanding fees, charges, and monies owed by the owner of the abandoned structure to the City of Livonia have been paid in full.
           
      D.        Re-occupancy of abandoned commercial, office, or industrial structure. The owner of an abandoned commercial, office, or industrial structure shall be required to obtain and pay for special inspections as set forth in 15.56.030(D) of the Livonia Code of Ordinances, including but not limited to Building, Electrical, HVAC and Plumbing inspections. The fees set forth in 15.56.030(D) shall be in addition to those fees required by 15.51.050. The owner of an abandoned commercial, office, or industrial structure shall obtain all necessary permits and pay all related fees in full, for work identified as being necessary during a special inspection. Permits shall be obtained and all fees paid in full for any work previously completed without the requisite permit.   Each inspection shall be conducted and approved in accordance with the Livonia Code of Ordinances, State Codes, Property Maintenance Code, Fire Prevention Code, and Heating Code.
 
      E.        Certificate of re-occupancy for abandoned commercial, office, or industrial structure. A certificate of re-occupancy shall be issued after all of the following conditions are fully satisfied:
 
1.         All fees, including but not limited to late charges and re-inspection fees are paid in full;
 
2.         All inspections and approvals have been obtained from the Director of Inspection;
 
3.         The fee for the final inspection certificate, set forth in 15.56.020(G)(3) has been paid in full; and,
 
4.         All outstanding fees, charges, and monies owed by the owner of the abandoned structure to the City of Livonia have been paid in full.
 
      15.51.100 Responsibility for violations. All nuisance, housing, building and related code violations will be cited and noticed to the owner of record and shall become the owner’s responsibility. The owner of any abandoned structure shall be obligated to provide written notice to any prospective purchaser of an abandoned structure of any violations, fees, or obligations imposed by the City regarding that abandoned structure. Failure by an owner to comply with this Section shall constitute a violation of this Chapter.  If the owner sells or otherwise disposes of the property to another party, the new owner shall not be entitled to any extension of time to correct or address such violations as existed at the time of sale, transfer or conveyance of the property.
 
      15.51.110 Penalty. 
 
      A.        A person who violates or fails to comply with the requirements of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) or imprisoned not more than ninety (90) days, or both, for each offense.
 
      B.        Each day that an owner of an abandoned or vacant structure fails to comply with the requirements of this chapter shall constitute a separate offense.
 
      C.        In addition to any other penalty provided for in this section, this chapter may be enforced by suit for injunction, action for damages, or any equitable relief appropriate to the enforcement of this chapter.
 
      15.51.120      Independent authority.  The authority conferred in Chapter 15.51 is separate from and in addition to the authority set forth in Chapter 52 of the Code of Ordinances and may be exercised jointly with or independent of the authority provided for in Chapter 52.
 
Section 2.      All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict herewith are hereby repealed only to the extent necessary to give this ordinance full force and effect.
 
 
Section 3.      Should any portion of this ordinance be held invalid for any reason, such holding shall not be construed as affecting the validity of any of the remaining portions of this ordinance.
 
_________________________
 
The above ordinance was passed at the regular meeting of the Council of the City of Livonia held Wednesday, October 8, 2009, at 8:00 p.m.
 
                                                                                 ___________________________
                                                                                 Linda Grimsby, City Clerk
 
            The foregoing ordinance was authenticated by me on this 8th day of October, 2009.
                                                                                 ___________________________
                                                                                 Jack E. Kirksey, Mayor
Approved as to form:
 
______________________________
Donald L. Knapp, Jr., City Attorney
Dated: October 8, 2009