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Committee Substitute House Bill 4034 History

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HB4034 SUB


H. B. 4034

By Mr. Speaker, (Mr. Thompson) and Delegate Armstead)

[By Request of the Executive]

(Originating in the House Committee on the Judiciary)

[February 12, 2010]

A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §8-12-16c, relating to authorizing any municipality to enact by ordinance a vacant building registration program; authorizing the assessment and collection of registration fees; authorizing exemptions of certain vacant properties; authorizing establishing a lien and assessment of civil penalties; authorizing an ordinance on notice to out of state owners; requiring certain procedures for administration and enforcement and appeal; and providing for a special account and specifying uses of monies received from fees assessed.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §8-12-16c, to read as follows:


§8-12-16c. Registration of vacant buildings; registration fees; procedures for administration and enforcement.

(a) The governing body of a municipality
shall have plenary power and authority to establish by ordinance a vacant building registration program. For purposes of this section, the term "vacant building" means a building or other structure that is unoccupied, or unsecured and occupied by one or more unauthorized persons for an amount of time as determined by the ordinance: Provided, That a new building under construction or a building that by definition is exempted by ordinance of the municipality, is not deemed a vacant building: Provided, further that the governing body of a municipality, shall on a case by case basis, upon request by the property owner, exempt a vacant building from registration upon a finding for good cause shown that the person will be unable to occupy the building for a determinant period of time.
(b) An owner of real property subject to registration may be
charged a fee or fees as provided by ordinance. The ordinance shall provide administrative procedures for the administration and enforcement of registration and payment and collection of registration fees.
(c) The ordinance may require that
when the owner of the vacant building resides outside of the state that the owner provide the name and address of a person who resides within the state who is authorized to accept service of process and notices of fees due under this section on behalf of the owner and who is designated as a responsible, local party or agent for the purposes of notification in the event of an emergency affecting the public health, safety or welfare.
(d) The ordinance may authorize the municipality to institute a civil action against the property owner and/or file a lien on real property for unpaid and delinquent vacant building registration fees. Before any lien is filed, the municipality
shall give notice to the property owner or owner's agent, by certified mail, return receipt requested, that the municipality will file the lien unless the delinquent fees are paid by a date stated in the notice, which must be no less than thirty days from the date the notice is received by the owner or the owner's agent, which shall be the date of delivery shown on the signed certified mail return receipt card. The ordinance may provide for alternative means of service when service cannot be obtained by certified mail.
(e) The ordinance
shall permit a property owner to challenge any determination made pursuant to the ordinance. The administrative procedures adopted pursuant to the ordinance shall include the right to appeal to the circuit court of the county in which the property is located.
(f) The governing body of a municipality shall deposit the fee into a separate account, which shall be used to:
(1) Improve public safety efforts, especially for police and fire personnel, who most often contend with the dangerous situations manifested in vacant properties;
(2) Monitor and administer this section; and
(3) Repair, close or demolish a vacant structure as authorized by section sixteen, article twelve, chapter eight.
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