Muskegon Puts Moratorium on Some Vacant Building Fees for 2013

Andrew Trzaska | November 27, 2012

Owners of buildings going into their fifth year of vacancy may be exempt from paying the City of Muskegon a vacancy fee for those buildings if certain criteria are met.

In short, the provision passed by the city commission is intended to entice people to keep the vacant properties well maintained; if the property remains in good shape and no other fees are owed, the city will waive the extra vacancy fee.

Those familiar with last year’s moratorium can note that this year’s requirements are the same as the moratorium extended in 2012.

Residents who believe their property qualifies can submit documentation to confirm the following things to avoid paying the cost:

  1. Owners must be current on all taxes and fees, including mowing charges, landlord registrations and business registrations.
  2. Utility payments due to the city must be paid in full.
  3. Within the time the building is vacant, no more than two letters concerning the building environment may have been sent regarding the property.
  4. Owners must show they have made new investments in the building recently and keep it in a condition where it is ready to move in.
  5. A professional realtor must have the property listed.

Documents obtained from the city indicate that residents will initially be billed for the vacancies even if they qualify, because the large number of vacant properties prohibits them from reviewing them all before the notices of billing must be sent out.   Citizens will then have the opportunity to prove they meet the criteria for fee waiving.  Documents from the city indicate having the owner produce their own documentation will save the city costs of review and paperwork.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst