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Councilman urging council members to pass vacant building legislation

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Councilman James Zecca re-introduced legislation to Utica's Common Council Wednesday night to create a vacant building registry and maintenance program for the city.

Zecca is urging the Council to finally pass an ordinance he presented last year that would set up a program to identify vacant buildings, require their owners to register them within 30 days of the building becoming vacant or being notified by an enforcement officer, and thus speed their rehabilitation.

Owners would also have to complete a vacant building permit with specific information regarding their plans for its rehabilitation, maintenance, removal or demolition.

Zecca says if enacted and enforced last year, the legislation would have prevented Utica's HSBC building from falling into disrepair.

"The HSBC building is just a good example of what has happened to some of our buildings in our city because we don't have something like the building registry and maintenance program in place like other cities do," says Zecca.

Zecca sites Binghampton, N.Y. as a city that has a similar and successful blight prevention law, which won them first place in a NYCOM Local Government Achievement Award.

"We're seeing this with residential properties, in commercial properties, this is just another tool for the Common Coucil and for the city to address those issues," says Zecca.

The owner of a vacant building will have to pay registration fee of $50. If a building is to remain vacant after a permit is issued, the owner will pay an annual fee of $200 dollars until the building is properly demolished or rehabilitated.

Wednesday night the Common Council decided not to vote on the ordinance, but move it to a committee to be further discussed.

However Zecca says he's confident the new council will put something in place within the next three or four months.

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