Schenectady County

Glenville vacant building registry plan easier on residential structures

In response to concerns from the public last week, the Town Board on Wednesday tweaked its propos


In response to concerns from the public last week, the Town Board on Wednesday tweaked its proposed vacant building registry law to create a hardship exemption for residential property owners.

The law would require owners of vacant buildings to register with the town and pay an annual fee, which would vary in size depending on whether the structure was residential or commercial and how long it had been vacant.

Town officials say they are trying to address blight and an abundance of vacant properties, especially in the commercial corridor.

Residents who spoke at last week’s public hearing said the law is unfairly penalizing people who may have trouble selling their property in a tough real estate market, or face some other challenges.

Councilwoman Gina Wierzbowski said she understood those concerns. “I don’t think the intent of this law was to make like we’re punishing people for having a vacant home,” she said at a work session Wednesday.

The board came to a consensus to require residential property owners to register after the property has been vacant for 180 days — instead of the original 120 — and also allow them to apply for a hardship waiver from the fee on the condition that the building inspector reviews the property.

The waiver would be for one year and could be renewed annually. Commercial property owners would still have to register within 45 days of the property becoming vacant. They would also have to be on the registry if they were unsecured, unsafe, in violation of building codes or illegally occupied.

Town Attorney Michael Cuevas said it is critical to have the inspection because even though the lawn may be well manicured and look fine from the outside, there could be problems on the inside, such as a bad roof, frozen pipes or insect infestation.

The fee would be $100 for a single-family or two-family residential building; $200 for other residential or commercial buildings less than 10,000 square feet; and $300 for residential or commercial buildings greater than 10,000 square feet. The fee would increase each year by the amount of the first-year fee up to a maximum of $500, $1,000 or $1,500, respectively.

Councilman Mark Quinn said he was still somewhat uncomfortable charging any residential property owners a fee.

“Are we kicking somebody who is already economically down and has paid taxes?”

Supervisor Chris Koetzle said he has received some positive e-mails from residents who hope that the law can address neglected properties in their neighborhoods. He reiterated that the town is not trying to give people a hard time.

“It isn’t a money grab on the residents. It’s a way to give the town an ability to understand what’s vacant out there, how our realtors can market it,” he said.

The Town Board will vote on the ordinance at its meeting on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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