UPDATE 2/19/13 @ 11:55 p.m.
DUNBAR, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Dunbar City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday that forces property owners to either fix up vacant and rundown buildings or sell them.
The owners will have to pay a yearly fee until the buildings are cleaned up.
Officials have said the empty buildings are a breeding ground for crime and a black hole for public funds, requiring lots of attention from the police and fire departments.
The ordinance is an amendment to the city's Home Rule law.
It goes into effect in 45 days.
"We have a lot of vacant buildings in this city and we've spent a lot of money trying to take care of these vacant buildings," Mayor Jack Yeager said.
Officials say the empty buildings are a breeding ground for crime and a black hole for public funds, requiring lots of attention from the police and fire departments.
That's why they're planning to impose an annual fee on abandoned building owners that neglect to improve or sell their property.
"We're passing the ordinance so that we can require those building owners to share in the cost of providing fire protection and police protection for those buildings," Yeager said.
The ordinance is modeled after one passed in Wheeling, W.Va. three years ago. Officials there say they've seen the number of nuisances drop since then.
Dunbar City Council will vote on the ordinance in two weeks. A public hearing will be held before the meeting.
Officials say it's unclear right now how much the owners would have to pay.
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