WATERTOWN — The public will have a chance on Tuesday night to express views about a new law that would make owners accountable for their vacant buildings.
A public hearing has been set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on the vacant property registry and inspection program that would target unsightly, unsafe buildings that have a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
The City Council is expected to vote on the proposal after the public hearing.
In April, City Manager Rick Finn proposed charging fees as a way to deal with vacant buildings that dot the city.
Two months later, council members expressed unanimous support for the program.
Properties that are for sale or that are in compliance would not be involved in the program. As long as there are no violations, the city would not go after those properties.
Under the registration program, the owner of the vacant building would pay a $50 fee upon registration no later than 30 days after it becomes vacant.
If the building remains vacant for more than 90 days, the city codes enforcement office would conduct inspections on the property and the owner would be assessed a $750 fee to pay for them.
If the property is rehabilitated or becomes occupied, there would be no registration and inspection fee.
If the owner ignores the registration program, the owner would be assessed a $500 penalty and face possible prosecution in Watertown City Court.
In recent years, city officials have been trying to figure out what to do about the city’s growing number of abandoned and deteriorating buildings.