[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Colonial Heights 10-8-2002 by Ord. No. 02-33. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The City Council finds that deteriorating properties, including the improvements and the land on which they are built, have a deleterious effect on property values and the quality of life in the area surrounding them. This Spot Blight Ordinance is enacted to provide for the abatement of blight that threatens the health, safety, morals and welfare of the community.
The City may acquire or repair any blighted property, as defined in § 112-3, by exercise of the powers of eminent domain provided in Title 25 of the Code of Virginia and, further, shall have the power to hold, clear, repair, manage or dispose of such property for purposes consistent with this chapter. In addition, the City may recover the costs of any repair or disposal of such property from the owner.
To be blighted, a property must have a building or improvement that, by reason of dilapidation, obsolescence, overcrowding, faulty arrangement of design, lack of ventilation, light and sanitary facilities, excessive land coverage, deleterious land use or obsolete layout, or any combination of these or other factors, is detrimental to the safety, health, morals or welfare of the community.
In determining whether a property meets the definition of "blighted" set forth above, the City may consider any of the following, or other pertinent, factors:
Condemned structure: A structure on the property has been continuously vacant for at least one year, has been condemned as unfit for human occupancy by the Building Official in accordance with the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, but the Building Official is unable to find that the criteria for demolition have been met and the owner has failed to take corrective action as directed by the Building Official.
Rat and rodent infestation: There is evidence of rat or rodent infestation or harborages caused by conditions on the property.
Previous citations: The property has been used or maintained in a condition which has resulted in the following actions:
The owner has been cited on at least three separate occasions because activities or conditions on the property violate state or City criminal laws, or City ordinances governing the use or maintenance of property, and those activities or conditions threaten the public health, safety, morals, and welfare of the community; or
The owner has refused to abate violations as ordered by the Court, or has repeated conduct for which the owner has been convicted of violating City ordinances in the past.
Inadequate facilities: The property has inadequate sewage, septic, plumbing, well or heating facilities.
Potential trespass: If the property is vacant, the owner has failed to take adequate precautions to prevent the use of the property by trespassers.
Nuisance to children: A potential attractive nuisance to children exists on the property, including, but not limited to, abandoned wells, basements, excavations, or broken fences.
Fire hazard: Any condition existing on the property that has been specifically identified as a fire hazard by the Fire Department or the Building Official.
Substantial dilapidation of buildings or structures as evidenced by either:
The City Manager or his designee shall make a preliminary determination that a property is blighted in accordance with § 112-3 and shall notify the owner by regular and certified mail, specifying the reasons why the property is considered blighted. The notice mailed to the owner also shall be posted on the property. The owner shall have 30 days within which to respond with a plan that would cure the blight within a reasonable time.
Upon approval of the plan to cure blight, the owner shall have 90 days to complete all work approved in the plan. The City Manager or his designee may grant extensions of time to complete work where in his opinion the owner has completed substantial portions of the work in compliance with the plan.
If the owner fails to respond within the thirty-day period set forth in § 112-4A with a plan that is acceptable to the City Manager or his designee, or fails to complete the work approved in the plan to cure blight and has not been granted an extension of time to complete such, the City Manager or his designee:
May request the Planning Commission to conduct a public hearing and make findings and recommendations that shall be reported to the City Council concerning the repair or other disposition of the property in question; and
If a public hearing is scheduled, shall prepare a plan for the repair or other disposition of the property.
Not less than three weeks prior to the date of the public hearing before the Planning Commission, the Commission shall provide, by regular and certified mail, notice of such hearing to the owner of the blighted property, or the agent designated by him for receipt of service of notices concerning the payment of real estate taxes on the property; the abutting property owners in each direction, including those property owners immediately across the street from the property; and the representative neighborhood association, if any, for the immediate area. The notice shall include the plan for the intended repair or other disposition of the property. The notice of the public hearing shall be published at least twice, with not less than six days elapsing between the first and second publication, in a newspaper published or having general circulation in the City. The notice also shall be posted on the property. The notice shall specify the time and place of the hearing at which persons affected may appear and present their views, not less than six days nor more than 21 days after the second publication.
The Planning Commission shall determine whether:
The property is blighted;
The owner has failed to cure the blight or present a reasonable plan to do so;
The plan for the repair or other disposition of the property is in accordance with the City's Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and other applicable land use regulations;
The property is located within an area listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In such instances, the Planning Commission shall consult with the locally established Architectural Review Board, if any, regarding the proposed repair or other disposition of the property; and
If the property is to be acquired, whether the property is occupied for personal residential purposes and whether it has been condemned for human habitation for more than one year.
The Planning Commission shall report its findings and recommendations concerning the property to the City Council. The Council, upon receipt of such findings and recommendations, and after an advertised public hearing, may affirm, modify or reject the Planning Commission's findings and recommendations. If the repair or other disposition of the property is approved, the City may carry out the approved plan to repair or acquire and dispose of the property in accordance with the approved plan, the provisions of this section, and applicable law. The City shall have a lien on all property so repaired or acquired under an approved plan to recover the cost of improvements made by the City to bring the blighted property into compliance with applicable building codes, and disposal, if any. The lien authorized by this subsection shall be filed in the Circuit Court and shall be subordinate to any prior liens of record. The City may recover its costs of repair from the owner of record of the property when the repairs were made at such time as the property is sold or disposed of by such owner. If the property is acquired by the City through eminent domain, the cost of repair may be recovered when the City sells or disposes of the property. In either case, the costs of repair shall be recovered from the proceeds of any such sale.
Unless otherwise provided for in Title 36 of the Code of Virginia, if the blighted property is occupied for personal residential purposes, the City, in approving the plan, shall not allow for an acquisition of such property if it would result in a displacement of the person or persons living in the premises. The provisions of this section shall not apply to acquisitions, under an approved plan, by the City of property that has been condemned for human habitation for more than one year. In addition, the City in exercising the powers of eminent domain in accordance with Title 25 of the Code of Virginia, may provide for temporary relocation of any person living in the blighted property, provided the relocation is within the financial means of such person.
In lieu of the acquisition of blighted property by the exercise of the powers of eminent domain as herein provided, and in lieu of the exercise of other powers granted in §§ 112-1 through 112-4, the City Council, by ordinance, may declare any blighted property to constitute a nuisance and, thereupon, abate the nuisance pursuant to § 15.2-900 or 15.2-1115 of the Code of Virginia. Such ordinance shall be adopted only after written notice by certified mail to the owner or owners at the last known address of such owner as shown on the current real estate tax assessment books or current real estate tax assessment records.
The provisions of this chapter shall be cumulative and shall be in addition to any remedies for spot blight abatement that may be authorized by law.