The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

September 6, 2013

City weighs incentives to fill vacant homes

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — The city of Oneonta is looking to improve housing and neighborhoods through tax incentives and code enforcement, among other avenues.

A housing summit last year identified concerns, and a task force further reviewed issues and identified some projects.

This week, the Oneonta Common Council reviewed proposed local laws and passed resolutions on home rule that would support incentives, such as tax abatements. The five local laws will be laid on the desks of the council at least a week ahead of its Sept. 17 meeting, when a vote is expected and a mayor’s hearing to be set.

Mayor Dick Miller said the proposed legislation is among initiatives the city is taking to encourage owner-occupied residences, particularly single-family homes. Studies have shown that owner-occupancy has a positive impact on neighborhood conditions, he said.

The city’s Housing Steering Committee has recommended the laws and home rule measures to offer property owners incentives to build or revitalize housing throughout the city, and the measures recently were reviewed recently by the council’s Community Improvement Committee.

Exemptions are limited regarding terms and amounts, focusing on the value added to the property, officials said, and exemptions wouldn’t reduce existing tax revenue.

According to a summary presented to the council, the five proposed laws would encourage:

• Low- or moderate-income housing developed through Housing Trust Fund or Affordable Housing Development Program by reducing the assessment on the value added by 100 percent for 12 years after construction and phasing in the assessment during years 13 to 20.

• New construction and rehabilitation of multiple housing in most zoning districts outside Residential 1 and 2 and the university district by reducing the value added by 100 percent for up to three years during construction and then 12 years after construction and phasing in the assessment during years 13 to 20.

• First-time homeowners to build a new house by reducing the assessment on the value added by 50 percent during the first year after construction and phasing in the assessment during the second through sixth year.

• Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certified structures by reducing the assessment on the value added and phasing in the assessment over a seven-year period for LEED Silver Projects, eight years for Gold and 10 years for Platinum Projects.

• The conversion of commercial/industrial property to mixed-use by reducing the assessment of the value added by 100 percent for eight years after the construction and phasing in the assessment during years nine through 12.

Meanwhile, a list of vacant homes has been developed, and the city has been working on identifying title owners and those responsible for the property, Robert Chiappisi, Oneonta code enforcement officer, said last week.

Of about 100 vacant homes, about half are abandoned, Chiappisi said. There were about 40 vacant homes when he joined the city in 2009, he said.

This summer alone, 10 homes were identified as vacant, he said. Homes may become vacant because occupants move away, are elderly and move to a nursing home or die, among other reasons, he said.

Chiappisi urged anyone who knows of a vacant property to contact him, the city manager at City Hall or the police department.