Jackson council establishes registration fee for vacant properties

JACKSON – The Township Council has adopted an ordinance that establishes an initial registration fee and a renewal fee for vacant properties in Jackson.

Council President Alexander Sauickie, Vice President Andrew Kern, Councilman Ken Bressi, Councilman Stephen Chisholm and Councilman Martin Flemming voted to adopt the ordinance during the June 23 meeting of the governing body.

According to the ordinance, the initial registration fee for a vacant property will be
$500. The renewal fee for a vacant property will be $1,000.

Flemming said the ordinance has been enacted in an attempt to keep neighborhoods that may have vacant properties from appearing rundown.

“The former fees did not seem stringent enough to keep (rundown appearances) from happening, so the fees are used to try and coerce the owners (of vacant properties) to do the right thing to keep the properties up (to standards) so the township does not have to (perform the work).

“The fees are used by the township to pay for the upkeep of the properties if the owners don’t do it, without costing the taxpayers any money,” Flemming said.

The councilman said the previous fee of $250 did not seem to be serving as enough of an incentive to property owners to address vacant parcels. He acknowledged there is an issue with vacant properties.

“When the first housing bubble hit, there was an immense amount of (vacant properties). Most have been absorbed, but there are still some around that are vacant and have been vacant for a while.

“When you put a vacant house in the middle of a street in a development, it starts hurting the whole development. If the owner does not keep up (the property) or if a house got foreclosed and is owned by a bank and the bank is not doing its job, we get to go in and do it,” Flemming said.

He said any eyesore is an issue, adding, “You do not want the value of your house being determined by what is two houses down from you with 18-inch-tall grass or just that vacant look. That is what we are trying to avoid.”

Flemming said there are vacant properties throughout Jackson.