Vacant building ordinance, River Bend Townhomes on council agenda

Published 5:01 pm Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Austin City Council will review a proposed ordinance concerning the identification and regulation of vacant and abandoned buildings during its next regular meeting.

The purpose of the proposed ordinance is to “protect the public health, safety and welfare” of Austin residents as vacant buildings “are a major cause and source of blight in residential and non-residential neighborhoods, especially when the owner or party responsible for a building fails to maintain and manage the building to ensure it does not become a liability to the neighborhood.”

Under the ordinance, the owner or responsible party will be required to register a vacant building within the city no later than 120 days after it has been vacated. The building would be subject to city inspections and the owner or responsible party would be required to maintain the building.

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The ordinance would also allow the city to notify the owner or responsible party to secure the vacant building should it be deemed hazardous as well as immediately securing the building should it pose an immediate threat. Any costs incurred by the city in securing a building may be charged against the real property.

In a memorandum to the mayor and council, City Planning and Zoning Administrator Holly Wallace said the city currently has a list of almost 60 vacant residential properties, though she suspects there are more.

Wallace noted the ordinance was first discussed several months ago. Because the recent pandemic has left uncertainty with the city budget, she said the council may decide to postpone the passage of the ordinance until the final budget decisions have been made for 2021.

The council will vote on an airport layout plan with SEH and appointing Dora Martinez as the new honorary council member during the meeting.

City Administrator Craig Clark will discuss the River Bend Townhomes proposal during the council’s work session. The Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership is proposing to construct 30 units of townhome apartments on a 4.66-acre parcel at 300 15th Ave. NE. The townhomes will consist of three separate buildings broken that will include four two-bedroom units, 24 three-bedroom units and two four-bedroom units. Each unit will have an attached garage.

City Engineer Steven Lang will discuss the Local Option Sales Tax and City Clerk Ann Kasel will discuss prorating liquor licenses to businesses that have on-sale liquor affected by the pandemic during the work session.

The council’s next regular meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 15, in the Council Chambers of City Hall. The work session will be held immediately following the regular meeting.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting will be closed to the general public. The meeting will be broadcasted beginning 5:30 p.m. on Charter Channel 180. Anyone who wishes to address the council must first call City Clerk Ann Kasel at 507-437-9943.

For a complete agenda, visit