Residents vote to withdraw vacant property registration ordinance before it takes effect


Petersburg, NJ: Citizen concern leads to renouncement of vacant property registration plans. Scope of abandoned property qualifications brought into question regarding possible overreach of good intentions and blight prevention.


The program previously planned to go into effect Jan. 1 was brought up for public review at a Dec. 15 meeting, where issue was taken with how the ordinance might hinder investment by residents with the intention of keeping vacant properties over prolonged periods, while still maintain the properties in good repair.


The ordinance would have required registration of a structure within 60 days of vacancy evaluation, or within 30 days of taking ownership of a property already established to be vacant, followed by an annual $500 registration fee. A sign offering contact information for those owning and overseeing the upkeep of the property would have to have been clearly posted, along with the building being secured from unauthorized entry.


Non-compliance could result in daily fines of $500 to $1,000 for a given violation of a requirement.


Despite clarification that the code would not apply to seasonal homes unoccupied for months at a time, citizens voiced concern that needing to maintain properties in a manner that occupying the structure was a primary goal was too much effort and unfair to investors to have to pay an annual fee if they did not find occupants for the building within a 30 to 60 days.


The Township Committee voted to withdraw the ordinance, but with the caveat a different ordinance with similar goals could be crafted and potentially put in place to accommodate city needs to stifle blight.


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