Local Law To Incentivize Renovations To Abandoned Properties

From left, back row, Vince DeJoy, city development director; Kimberly Ecklund, councilwoman; Gregory Rabb, council president; Todd Thomas, city clerk and administrative services director; from left front row, Marie Carrubba, councilwoman; Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, and Anthony Dolce, councilman; during the ceremonial signing of the Local Property Tax Abatement Incentive Redevelopment of Vacant and Condemned Properties law in the mayor's office Wednesday. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

A new local law to incentivize renovating abandoned properties or creating new structures on vacant lots is officially in place.

On Wednesday, city officials gathered for a ceremonial signing of the new local law titled Local Property Tax Abatement Incentive Redevelopment of Vacant and Condemned Properties program. Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, said he doesn’t usually host ceremonial law signings with city officials, but he wanted to highlight the quality work done by city and state officials belonging to both sides of the political aisle who worked together to get the tax incentive program passed.

Teresi said the idea for the program was suggested by Marie Carrubba, Ward 4 councilwoman, about two years ago after she heard about her hometown of Batavia passing a similar law. The mayor said Carrubba, who is a Democrat, then reached out to Vince DeJoy, city development director, about creating a program for Jamestown to assist developers in saving abandoned properties or creating new structures on vacant lots.

Once the law was created, Teresi said the law was unanimously passed at the local level by the nine-member city council, which has six Democrats and three Republicans. He said the legislation was then sponsored by Republicans Andy Goodell, state assemblyman, and Kathy Young, state senator, who got the local law passed through the Democratic majority Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate, which was then signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve done with this local law and I’m proud of how it was done,” Teresi said.

Teresi said the new program won’t fix all of Jamestown’s housing problems, but he said the program, with just three to four houses being renovated annually, could save the city more than $100,000 yearly because the average cost to demolish a property in the city because of state regulations is between $30,000-$40,000. He said the biggest benefit is that it will save neighborhoods because once blighted house will be renovated, which will help to preserve Jamestown’s older housing stock.

DeJoy said the first possible candidate for the program might be the creation of a new house on a vacant lot along Norton and Summit avenues. He said studies have shown that a blighted house on a street can reduce the property values of other quality homes on the street by as much as $25,000.

Teresi said the Chautauqua County Legislature is in the process of passing the law so the program will work to incentivize both city and county taxes.

He said, hopefully, the Jamestown Public Schools will also look to pass the law so it can be applied toward school taxes as well.

The tax abatement program will include single or two-family residential properties that are vacant, legally condemned and have outstanding state and local code violations where the cost of remedying the violations exceeds the property value. Also, the program will include the construction of a new single or two-family residence of at last 1,200 square feet on a parcel where a previous house has been demolished.

An exemption will be granted through an application filled out by the owner of the property with the city assessor’s office before March 1 to qualify for that tax year. The application will include the scope of work, with cost estimates and quotes from contractors, plumbers and electricians who are licensed to do work in the city. The abatement period shall be for a period of 11 years. The abatement schedule will be zero percent for years one through three; 20 percent for years four and five; 40 percent for years six and seven; 60 percent for years eight and nine; 80 percent for years 10 and 11; and 100 percent starting year 12.