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Introduced Version House Bill 4386 History

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hb4386 intr
H. B. 4386


(By Delegates DeLong and Morgan)
[Introduced February 4, 2008; referred to the
Committee on Government Organization.]




A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §8-12-16a, relating to authorizing municipalities to create a semiannual vacant property registration; providing for registration fees; providing for appeals; and providing penalties.

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 §8-12-16a, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 12. GENERAL AND SPECIFIC POWERS, DUTIES AND ALLIED RELATIONS OF MUNICIPALITIES, GOVERNING BODIES AND MUNICIPAL OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES; SUITS AGAINST MUNICIPALITIES.
§8-12-16a. Regulation and registration of vacant properties.

(a)
Legislative findings. -- The Legislature finds that vacant properties deter development and redevelopment initiatives, attract loitering and vagrancy, can be havens for drug use and pose numerous health safety threats spanning from the potential of fires, dilapidation and debris.
(b) The governing body of any municipality may, by ordinance, establish a semiannual vacant property registration and may charge a fee to the owner of any parcel of residential property improved by a residential structure, or commercial property improved by a structure containing multiple dwelling units, that is vacant, has been vacant for at least six months, and is characterized by violations of applicable housing codes established by the municipality.
(c) The municipality shall designate a municipal officer to investigate any property that may be subject to the registration fee. The officer shall report his findings and recommendations, and shall determine whether the property is subject to the registration fee. Within five business days, the municipality shall notify by mail the owners of property on which the registration fee has been placed at their last known address according to the records of the municipality. The property owner has the right to appeal the decision of the municipality to a municipal court or other court of competent jurisdiction within thirty days of the notification. Absent the existence of any valid appeal or request for reconsideration, the registration fee begins at the beginning of the next registration period after the decision of the municipal officer.
(d) Within thirty days of notice from the municipality, the property owner may complete any improvements to the property that may be necessary to revoke the registration fee, and then may request a reinspection of the property and a reconsideration of the registration fee. If the municipal officer revokes the registration fee, no fee will be incurred. If the officer affirms the assessment of the registration fee, the property owner has the right to appeal the reconsideration decision of the officer to the circuit court with competent jurisdiction within thirty days of the decision. Absent the existence of any valid appeal to the circuit court with competent jurisdiction, the registration fee begins to accrue on the beginning of the next semiannual registration period after the reconsideration decision of the municipal governing body.
(e) The municipal governing body shall establish by ordinance procedures for payment of the registration fee and penalties for delinquent payments of the fees. Any registration fees which are delinquent for a period of one year becomes a lien on the property and is subject to foreclosure proceedings in the same manner as delinquent real property taxes. The owner of the property against which the assessment was originally made is able to redeem the property only by presenting evidence that the violations of the applicable housing code cited by the municipal officers have been cured and presenting payment of all registration fees and penalties. Upon bona fide sale of the property to an unrelated party said lien shall be considered released and the delinquent registration fee forgiven.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to authorize municipalities to create a semiannual vacant property registration fee.

This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.

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