Vacant property registration ordinances approved

Lawmakers passed a bill March 15 intended to help cities address the problem of vacant properties.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist41' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Tom Briese'>Sen. Tom Briese</a>
Sen. Tom Briese

Under LB256, sponsored by Albion Sen. Tom Briese, a municipality may adopt an ordinance that allows it to identify and register vacant properties, collect fees to compensate for the public costs of property vacancy, plan for rehabilitation and encourage occupancy.

The bill does not apply to metropolitan- and primary-class cities. Currently, Omaha is the state’s only metropolitan-class city and Lincoln is the only primary-class city.

A registry could include commercial or residential property and could apply only to buildings located within a city or village’s corporate limits. An ordinance is required to exempt vacant properties that are advertised in good faith for sale or lease.

If adopted, a vacant property registration ordinance requires registration of a property vacant for 180 days or longer. An initial registration fee of no more than $250 for a residential property and $1,000 for a commercial property would be assessed. Supplemental fees are allowed and exemptions to the fee requirement may be provided.

Unpaid registration fees and fines will become a lien on the applicable property upon notice to the county.

LB256 passed on a 47-0 vote.

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