Draft Language Reviewed for Vacant Property Registration Ordinance

HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) – After Havre’s City Council meeting Tuesday night, the Ordinance Committee held a meeting to discuss the language of a Vacant Property Registration Ordinance that’s been in the works for about two years.

Committee Chair Caleb Hutchins went through the draft language, which would require properties considered vacant to provide contact information, a plan for what they will do with the building, and pay a registration fee starting at $100. The fees would increase by $100 a year, up to $500. If the property owner refuses to pay the fees or other charges, that bill will be added on to their property taxes.

The ordinance would allow exemptions for damaged buildings, buildings for sale, and seasonal properties. It also outlines an appeals process.

This meeting was well attended and many business owners and landlords spoke against the ordinance, concerned that those who are genuinely trying to improve their properties will be punished by these measures. There were also concerns about who would perform the duties outlined in the ordinance, if they need to hire a new person to perform these duties, and what the cost of their employment would be.

A few members of the public were supportive of the measure, believing it would help beautify the city and make use of some of these properties.

The Committee took no action Tuesday night and Hutchins says he wants to speak with the people who voiced their concerns and take another look at the drafts wording and time tables for the exemptions.

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