In an effort to combat the continued vacancy of commercial business buildings in Bryan, the city administration is proposing a Vacant Building/Storefront Enforcement Program.

Legislation to codify the program is on the agenda for today’s council meeting, which will take place in council chambers after months of council meeting exclusively online.

The proposed ordinance defines a “vacant building/storefront” as those in areas zoned for commercial or industrial use in which the first floor is not occupied, or where substantially all lawful business operations have ceased, or which is substantially devoid of content.

The owner or party in control of a vacant building would be required to register the building with the city engineering department and would agree to grant the city unrestricted access to the building, after receiving 48 hours notice.

Exemptions can be made for buildings damaged by fire, vandalism, natural disasters or acts of God; owners actively attempting to sell or rent the property; or council may grant an exemption at its discretion.

The fee for registration would be $200 and the owner would pay an additional fee of $800 for the first year of vacancy, with that fee doubling each consecutive year the building remains vacant, up to a maximum of $6,400 annually. The fees would go to the city’s general fund.

Failure to register would be a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to $250 in fines, 30 days in jail or both.

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