A new law requiring owners of vacant property in Kent to register with the city has been delayed.
Kent City Council first voted early in October at a committee meeting to enact the new law, which requires owners to register their vacant properties for a yearly fee so the city can manage, track and ensure accountability for empty commercial and residential spaces.
At its regular meeting Wednesday, council voted to delay enacting the new law by approving it — but on a first-reading only. That means, unless adds an emergency clause, the law would need to go through two more votes before it takes effect.
"As usual, the public is not really aware of this," Councilman Wayne Wilson said. "So I’d like to get their input, at least to a second reading, at least prior to passing the whole thing. That’s why I made the motion to the first reading."
The new, 10-page law presents a few changes from the draft ordinance proposed in August.
Among the changes were a reduction in registration fees. Owners of vacant residential properties must pay $50 per year to register well-kept properties and $200 annually for properties that are not well-kept, which is defined in the ordinance as: a house or building with windows and doors in place or otherwise boarded up securely; grass is cut, weeds are not present and trees and shrubs are trimmed; and it's free of trash and debris and kept painted.
Owners of vacant commercial properties must pay a steeper fee — $500 for well-kept and $1,000 fee for not well-kept properties.
Councilwoman Heidi Shaffer said she still has some questions about the law, including waivers available for some properties.
"I want to explore the answers and maybe draft a better policy if we have three readings," she said.
Councilman John Kuhar said he's gotten a lot of calls about the issue and wants to have a few more meetings on it to let people talk to council about it.
"I do think it’s something that we need to get some public input (on) because it was very unknown," Kuhar said.