Vacant Buildings Program

Purpose

Structures which are left vacant for extended periods of time have proven to breed crime, pose public safety risks, reduce property values, and reduce the economic viability of the community.  The City of St. Marys established the Vacant Building Registration Program as a means to identify and register vacant building located within the corporation limits, to govern the responsibilities of vacant building owners, and to provide appropriate incentives for vacant buildings to be returned to productive use.


Ordinance

Chapter 1343 of the City of St. Marys Codified Ordinances was passed by City Council in November 2019.

Ordinance for the Registration of Vacant Buildings


Registration Form

An owner of a structure which meets the definition of a vacant building as explained in Chapter 1343.02 shall register such structure with the Fire Department within 30 days of the designation.

Vacant Building Registration Form


Building Plan

An owner of a structure which meets the definition of a vacant commercial or industrial building as explained in Chapter 1343.02 shall include a building plan with the registration form.

Vacant Building Plan Form


Appeals

Upon designation of a building as a Vacant Building by the Director of Public Service and Safety, the owner may appeal such designation in the same manner and in the same time limits as an appeal under Chapter 1339 of the Codified Ordinances where there has been the designation of a structure as a Dangerous Building.


Fee Schedule

A fee schedule was established as a part of this program in order to provide appropriate incentives for owners of vacant buildings to care for them properly, seek to fill them, and in appropriate cases, demolish them. The annually increased fee amounts are intended to increase pressure on the vacant building owner, absorb costs for possible demolition, hazard abatement of or repairs to vacant structures.
 

Residential Registration (Annually):$250
  
Commercial/Industrial Registration (Years 0-1):$400
- 1st Renewal (Years 1-2):$800
- 2nd Renewal (Years 2-3):$1,600
- 3rd Renewal (Years 3-4):$3,200
- Every Subsequent Renewal:$6,400

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the goal of this program?

The goal of the Vacant Building Registration (VBR) Program is to establish a process for identifying and registering vacant structures within the City of St. Marys. Additionally, the program shall govern the responsibilities of the owners of vacant structures, and provide incentives for structures to be returned to productive use.
 

Why is the City requiring that vacant buildings be registered?

Structures left vacant for extended periods of time have been proven to breed crime, pose public safety risks, reduce property values, and decrease the economic viability of the community. With the registration, the City will have access to current owner contact information or the person responsible for the property, a plan for the property to be returned to productive use, and access to the property to conduct semi-regular interior and exterior inspections.
 

What are the boundaries of the Vacant Building Registration Program?

Any and all designated vacant structures located within the corporation limits of the City of St. Marys are required to register with the City of St. Marys Fire Department.
 

Does this program apply to vacant lots?

No. The program only applies to vacant structures.
 

What is the definition of a vacant building?

The definition of a vacant building is outlined in Chapter 1343.02
 

Are there any exemptions to the Vacant Building Registration Program?

Yes. The following are examples of structures that are exempt from the VBR Program:

  • Buildings under active construction
  • Other special circumstances granted at the discretion of the Director of Public Service and Safety.
     

What happens if the property is sold?

A new owner shall register or re-register a vacant building within 30 days of any transfer of an ownership interest in the vacant building unless the building is to become occupied immediately upon transfer.
 

What if I received a notice, but my building is not vacant?

Contact the Director of Service and Safety to explain your specific situation and provide documentation proving that the building is not vacant (i.e., current lease agreements).
 

How often must I renew my registration?

The owner of a vacant structure must renew their registration every 12 months.
 

Is there a fee to register?

Yes – a fee schedule was established in order to provide appropriate incentives for owners of vacant buildings to care for them properly, seek to fill them, and in some cases demolish them. The annually increased fee amounts are intended to absorb the costs for possible demolition, hazard abatement, or repairs to vacant buildings. If an owner successfully restores the building to occupancy or demolishes the structure within the first 12 months, then the fee will be refunded.
 

How long do I have to register my vacant building?

An owner of a structure which meets the definition of a vacant building shall register with the Fire Department within 30 days of being notified.
 

What happens if I do not register my building?

If a registration form is filed late, an additional late fee shall be paid in addition to the annual registration fee and shall be equal to the annual registration fee or one thousand dollars ($1,000), whichever is less.

Whoever violates any of the provisions of the VBR shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.  A separate offense shall be deemed committed each day during or on which a violation occurs or continues.
 

What constitutes a Vacant Building Plan?

A vacant building plan, at a minimum, must contain one of the following:

Demolition – If the building is to be demolished, a demolition plan indicating the proposed time frame for demolition which includes starting within 30 days of acceptance of the proposed demolition timeline and does not exceed one year in accordance with the Ohio Building Code. (Note: Demo permit from the Miami County Building Department is required.)

Vacant and Secure – If the building is to remain vacant, a plan for ensuring the building is secured in accordance with all applicable building and fire codes along with the procedure that will be used to maintain the property, and a statement of the reasons why the building will be left vacant. One example of an appropriate Vacant and Secure Plan is a building that is listed for sale. (Note: This does not exempt the structure from any applicable nuisance or zoning codes.)

Rehabilitation – If the building is to be returned to appropriate occupancy or use, rehabilitation plans for the building and grounds are required. The rehabilitation plan shall not exceed 12 months from the time permits are obtained unless an extension is granted from the Zoning Board. Any repairs, improvements or alterations to the property must comply with any applicable zoning, housing, historic preservation, or building codes, and the property must be properly secured during the rehabilitation.
 

Will the City be inspecting my property?

Yes. The Director of Public Service and Safety and the Fire Department reserves the right to inspect any premises in the City for the purpose of enforcing the VBR Program. An owner of a vacant structure shall provide access to all interior and exterior portions of a vacant building in order to complete inspections.
All structures will be subject to the following inspections:

  • Exterior inspections – Twice a year
  • Interior inspections – At the beginning of each registration period
  • Interior and exterior inspections – Upon property transfer

Any inspection at the discretion of the Director of Public Service and Safety or the Fire Department.


When did the Vacant Building Registration Program begin?

The VBR Program will begin enforcement of the regulations in December 2019.