Fees for vacant buildings in Aberdeen approved

Owners of vacant or dilapidated buildings in Aberdeen could be facing fines of around $1,500 yearly if they remain in that condition.

The Aberdeen City Council adopted a resolution on Wednesday that sets the fees for the Vacant Commercial Buildings Ordinance that was recently approved for the downtown Aberdeen area and extending to Park Street.

The resolution sets not only fines for violations of the ordinance, but fees required for building owners if they own buildings that fall under it.

Vacant Commercial Buildings Fee
Licenses run from January 1st through December 31st. Fees are based on the duration of the vacancy.
Each vacant building: a year or less $100
Each vacant building: 1-2 years $150
Each vacant building: 2-3 years $200
Each vacant building: 3+ years until the building is occupied $250
Monthly inspections while vacant $100

Based on the figures presented at the meeting, a building that has remained vacant for a number of years could see fees of $1450 yearly if remaining empty. These fines are issued to owners per building.

When asked about the fees, Lisa Scott told the council that while the format of the rules was modeled after other cities, the rates in those other areas were “substantially higher”.

Vacant commercial properties must be registered with the city, with documentation if the buildings are under a current building permit or repair project, renewing that registration on a yearly basis.

Community Development Director Lisa Scott says that while the fees are now approved, they will not be enforced until the city has time to notify building owners and staff have the opportunity to implement the new rules.

The city approved new rules for the vacant or dilapidated buildings that would fall under the new ordinance earlier in July.

In addition to vacancies, the rules also apply to buildings that are in disrepair or dilapidation.

The city has defined general minimum maintenance requirements for buildings, requiring owners to maintain all exterior surface areas, including removing chipped paint or rust from the sides of the buildings and sealing entries from water and weather.

Buildings must be kept free from moss, algae, dirt, grime, holes, breaks, and of any loose or decaying materials.

The requirements mean that buildings must be secured without broken glass or doors, covering any broken potential entryways and repairing them within 72 hours, with extensions available by request.

Those appearance violations were said in discussions to be issued on a daily basis as long as the issues persist.

City officials would be tasked with conducting inspections to enforce that building owners are complying with the updated rules.

Fees collected under the rules would be placed into the Good Neighbors Revolving Loan Fund, with access for other building owners to receive loans to make exterior improvements.