Minooka property owners who own vacant buildings or empty lots are now, under a newly passed ordinance, required to register those properties with the village or face penalties.
Steve Thornton, village building officer, frequently has difficulty contacting owners of such properties when problems arise.
Vacant buildings have caused significant problems for the village, including flooding from frozen pipes during cold weather, mold and maintenance issues. Property not maintained properly can become unsafe.
The buildings and lots vacated indefinitely become unsightly and diminish property values. They also pose a danger to police, paramedics, the fire department and other emergency responders, according to the ordinance.
The biggest offenders, according to village trustee Dennis Martin, acting as village president pro tem in the absence of Pat Brennan Tuesday night, are financial institutions who obtain property that’s been foreclosed upon.
“We hope financial institutions will step up and let us know that they own the property,” Martin said.
The ordinance carries a penalty if property owners don’t comply. Unclaimed vacant buildings and lots bring a $50 fee. Failure to register will add a $100 fee, plus any amounts the village incurs as a result of an ownership search on the property, according to records.
“We are not trying to penalize banks,” Martin said. “We are just hopeful that this will induce them to advise the village they are the owners so we can contact them.”
Owners have an entire year to register all properties with the village. Enforcement will begin on May 1, 2013.