CONNEAUT — An innovative program aimed at helping Conneaut deal with dozens of vacant houses and commercial buildings, approved by City Council last month could be launched next month, says City Manager Tim Eggleston.
The program will help the city build a data base of property contacts which will also spell out in detail their plans for the empty structures. The Conneaut plan is patterned after a program in Painesville that has worked well, officials said.
Eggleston estimated Conneaut has more than 100 buildings that qualify for the program. Local officials were scheduled to meet with Painesville administrators to review the types of forms that city uses in its enforcement program, Eggleston said. After that, Conneaut should be ready to start its version of the initiative, he said.
Under the program, owners of vacant buildings are now obliged to:
n Register the building with the city’s Planning and Zoning Department no later than 90 days after the building becomes vacant or no more than 30 days after being notified by the city that registration is required
n Provide on the registration form the name and addresses of all owners, the name of any company in charge of the property’s maintenance, all known lien-holders or parties with an ownership interest
n Provide a telephone number where a responsible party can be reached during business and non-business hours
n Provide a building plan for the structure subject to approval of the city’s planning/zoning manager. The plan will vary, depending on whether the owner plans to demolish, repair the building or leave it vacant.
The property will also be subject to regular inspection by the planning/zoning manager. Owners will also pay an annual vacant property registration fee that starts at $200 for residences and $400 for commercial property and doubles each year the structure stays empty.
Property maintenance — or the lack of it — across the city has been a top priority of residents who have attended community forums the past few years. Administrators and council members are confident the vacant property registration program will address many of the problems.
“I think it will really help a lot,” Eggleston said. “We will be a lot more proactive on these things.”