ORDINANCE NUMBER 51.82.98 (Amended)
An introduction by Council Members Morris and McLaughlin
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 133 OF THE CODE OF THE CITY OF ALBANY BY
RE-TITLING ARTICLE XI-A TO READ “THE VACANT BUILDING REGISTRY”, RE-NUMBERING
EXISTING ARTICLE XI-A TO READ “ARTICLE XI-B” AND AMENDING SECTION 133-68 OF
The City of Albany in Common Council convened does hereby ordain and
Section 1. Chapter 133 of the Code of the City of Albany is hereby amended by
adding a new Article XI-A to read as follows:
Vacant Building Registry
Section 133-78.1. Legislative Findings and Purpose.
It is the finding of the Common Council that buildings which remain
vacant, with access points boarded over, are unsightly, unsafe and have a
negative effect on their surroundings. This is particularly troublesome in
residential and neighborhood commercial neighborhoods. Unfortunately, many
buildings, once boarded, remain that way for many years. The purpose of this
ordinance is to establish a program for identifying and registering vacant
buildings; to determine the responsibilities of owners of vacant buildings and
structures; and to speed the rehabilitation of the vacant properties.
Sec. 133-78.2. Definitions.
Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following terms shall for the
purpose of this article, have the meanings indicated in this
A. Enforcement Officer - A duly authorized representative of the
Department of Fire, Emergency and Building Services.
B. Owner - Those shown to be the owner or owners on the records of the
City of Albany Department of Assessment and Taxation, those identified as the
owner or owners on a vacant building registration form, a mortgagee in
possession, a mortgagor in possession, assignee of rents, receiver, executor,
trustee, lessee, other person, firm or corporation in control of the premises.
Any such person shall have a joint and several obligation for compliance with
the provisions of this article.
C. Secured by other than normal means - A building secured by means other
than those used in the design of the building.
D. Unoccupied - A building which is not being used for an occupancy
authorized by the owner;
E. Unsecured - A building or portion of a building which is open to entry
by unauthorized persons without the use of tools or ladders.
F. Vacant building - A building or portion of a building which
(1) Unoccupied and unsecured;
(2) Unoccupied and secured by other than normal means;
(3) Unoccupied and an unsafe building as determined by the Department of
Emergency and Building Services;
(4) Unoccupied and has multiple housing or building code
(5) Illegally occupied;
(6) Unoccupied for a period of time over three hundred sixty-five (365)
days and during which time the enforcement officer has
issued an order to correct code violations.
133-78.3. Vacant Building Registration.
A. The owner shall register with The Department of Fire, Emergency and
Building Services not later than thirty (30) days after any building located in
an area zoned for, or abutting an area zoned for, residential or neighborhood
commercial use in the city becomes a vacant building, as defined in section
133-78.2 or not later than 30 days of being notified by the Department of Fire,
Emergency and Building Services of the requirement to register. The Department
may identify vacant buildings through its routine inspection process as well as
through notification by residents, neighborhood associations and other community
groups that a building may be eligible for inclusion on the registry.
B. The registration shall be submitted on forms provided by the
Department of Fire, Emergency and Building Services and shall include the
following information supplied by the owner:
(1) A description of the premises;
(2) The names and addresses of the owner or owners;
(3) If the owner does not reside in Albany County or any adjoining county,
the name and address of any third party who the owner has entered into a
contract or agreement with for property management;
(4) The names and addressees of all known lienholders and all other
parties with an ownership interest in the building;
(5) A telephone number where a responsible party can be reached at all
times during business and non-business hours; and
(6) A vacant building plan as described in Section C.
C. The owner shall submit a vacant building plan which must meet the
approval of the enforcement officer. The plan, at a minimum, must contain
information from one of the following three choices for the property:
(1) If the building is to be demolished, a demolition plan indicating the
proposed time frame for demolition; or
(2) If the building is to remain vacant, a plan for the securing of the
building in accordance with standards provided in Section 133.68.1 and 133.68.2,
if applicable, along with the procedure that will be used to maintain the
property in accordance with Article XI, and a statement of the reasons why the
building will be left vacant; or
(3) If the building is to be returned to appropriate occupancy or use, a
rehabilitation plan for the property. The rehabilitation plan shall not exceed
three hundred sixty five (365) days, unless the enforcement officer grants an
extension upon receipt of a written statement from the owner detailing the
reasons for the extension. Any repairs, improvements or alterations to the
property must comply with any applicable zoning, housing, historic preservation
or building codes and must be secured in accordance with Sections 133.68, if
applicable, during the rehabilitation.
D. The enforcement officer shall provide the owner with a written referral
to the Department of Development and Planning for information outlining programs
available which may be useful in developing the owner’s rehabilitation
E. All applicable laws and codes shall be complied with by the owner. The
owner shall notify the enforcement officer of any changes in information
supplied as part of the vacant building registration within thirty days of the
change. If the plan or timetable for the vacant building is revised in any way,
the revisions must be in writing and must meet the approval of the enforcement
F. The owner and subsequent owners shall keep the building secured and
safe and the building and ground properly maintained as provided in Article XI
of this chapter.
G. Failure of the owner or any subsequent owners to maintain the building
and premises that result in remedial action taken by the city shall be grounds
for revocation of the approved plan and shall be subject to any applicable
penalties provided by the law.
H. The new owners shall register or re-register the vacant building with
the enforcement officer within thirty days of any transfer of an ownership
interest in a vacant building. The new owners shall comply with the approved
plan and timetable submitted by the previous owner until any proposed changes
are submitted and meet the approval of the enforcement officer.
I. Vacant building fees:
(1) The owner of a vacant building shall pay an annual fee of two hundred
($200) dollars for the period the building remains a vacant building. The fee
shall be reasonably related to the administrative costs for registering and
processing the vacant building owner registration form and for the costs of the
city in monitoring the vacant building site.
(2) The first annual fee shall be paid no later than thirty days after the
building becomes vacant. If the fee is not paid within thirty days of being
due, the owner shall be subject to prosecution as prescribed in section 133-80.
If a plan is extended beyond 365 days, subsequent annual fees shall be due on
the anniversary date.
(3) The fee shall be paid in full prior to the issuance of any building
permits, with the exception of a demolition permit. The fee shall be prorated
and a refund may be issued if the building is no longer deemed vacant under the
provisions of this article within one hundred eighty (180) days of its
(4) All delinquent fees shall be paid by the owner prior to any transfer
of an ownership interest in any vacant building. If the fees are not paid prior
to any transfer, the new owner shall pay the annual fee no later than thirty
days after the transfer of ownership and subsequent annual fees shall be due on
the new anniversary date.
J. The enforcement officer shall include in the file any property
specific written statements from community organizations, other interested
parties or citizens regarding the history, problems, status or blighting
influence of a vacant building.
Section 133-78.4. Exemptions.
A building which has suffered fire damage or damage caused by extreme
weather conditions shall be exempt from the registration requirement for a
period of ninety days after the date of the fire or extreme weather event if the
property owner submits a request for exemption in writing to the Department of
Fire, Emergency and Building Services. This request shall include the following
information supplied by the owner:
(1) A description of the premises;
(2) The names and addresses of the owner or owners;
(3) A statement of intent to repair and reoccupy the building in an
expedient manner, or the intent to demolish the building.
Section 133-78.5. Inspections.
The Department of Fire, Emergency and Building Services shall inspect any
premises in the city for the purpose of enforcing and assuring compliance with
the provisions of this Article. Upon the request of the enforcement
officer, an owner may provide access to all interior portions of an unoccupied
building in order to permit a complete inspection. Nothing contained herein,
however, shall diminish the owner’s right to insist upon the procurement of a
search warrant from a court of competent jurisdiction by the enforcement officer
or his or her designee in order to enable such inspection and the enforcement
officer shall be required to obtain a search warrant whenever an owner refuses
to permit a warrantless inspection of the premises after having been advised of
his or her constitutional right to refuse entry without same.
Section 133-78.6. Quarterly Reports.
Once every three months, the Department of Fire, Emergency and Building
Services shall send to the Mayor and to the Common Council a list of all
buildings in the city declared vacant under the provisions of this article, as
well as a list of all previously declared vacant buildings which are no longer
subject to the provisions of this article.
Section 133-78.7. Penalties.
Any person violating any provision of the Vacant Building Registry or
providing false information to the enforcement officer shall be punished as
provided by Section 133-80.
Section 2. Section 133-68 of Article XI of Chapter 133 of the Code of the
City of Albany is hereby amended to read as follows:
Section 133-68. Exterior Protection.
A. Exterior walls, including foundations, shall be maintained so that ground-
and surface water does not penetrate into basements, cellars or other interior
B. Exterior doors, windows, skylights and similar openings shall be
C. Exterior stairs, porches, entrance platforms, fire escapes and the
railings thereon shall be maintained in a safe and sound condition.
D. Roofs shall be maintained in a watertight condition.
E. Exterior surfaces shall be maintained in good condition. Surfaces not
inherently resistant to deterioration shall be treated with a protective coating
of paint or other suitable preservative.
F. The covering for doors and windows may not consist of any substance
sprayed onto the windows. All enclosures shall be properly fitted and be of
such material and surface that they are neither unsightly nor will materially
detract from the general appearance of the building or the neighborhood and,
when possible, secured by normal means.
G. The covering for doors and windows may consist of:
(1) Venetian or similar blind;
(2) Drapes, curtains or shades;
(3) Decorative patterned paper, neatly installed with all seams straight
and uniformly taped;
(4) Boards or similar materials finished and maintained in a manner
recommended by the Department of Fire, Emergency and Building Services so as to
blend in with the finish of the building;
(5) Coverings approved by the enforcement officer and when applicable by
the Historic Resources Commission and the Planning Board.
H. Cracked or broken glass windows shall be replaced with glass.
I. In addition to the standards prescribed above, vacant commercial and
retail buildings shall comply with the following standards:
(1) Any and all window display areas shall be kept clean, free of hazard
and free of debris.
(2) All exterior signs, awnings and lighting systems, if not removed,
shall be maintained in a completely operable, clean, sightly, nondeteriorated
and safe condition.
(3) Any window covering shall have a clear opening of two square feet to
allow a view of the interior of the store for security purposes. Such opening
shall be installed no lower than three feet above grade and no more than six
feet above grade and may be in either the show window or the door.
J. If the owner shall fail to comply with the provisions of this section
regarding exterior protection the Department of Fire, Emergency and Building
Services may, after notice of non-compliance and intent to remedy is mailed to
the owner, perform or cause such work to be performed and may recover the
expense either by action or by local assessment on the premises or both. This
action shall be in addition to any other available remedy under this
Section 3. Article XI-A as it presently exists is hereby
renumbered Article XI-B. The sections comprising said Article are hereby
renumbered 133-78.8 to 133-78.18, inclusive.
Section 4. Savings clause. In the event that this ordinance or any
provisions of it shall be deemed by a court to be in conflict with a provision
of the New York State Constitution or with a general law, or if adherence to or
enforcement of any section of this ordinance shall be restrained by a court, the
remaining provisions of this local law shall not be affected.
Section 5. This ordinance shall take July 1, 2000.