Exmore Derelict Building Ordinance

By Stefanie Jackson — Exmore officials are working to get private property cleaned up and free of debris and derelict buildings so the town can shine like the “Treasure of the Eastern Shore” it aspires to be.

Town Manager Robert Duer suggested at Monday night’s town council meeting that Exmore request inclusion in Northampton County’s upcoming, new real estate tax abatement program benefiting property owners who either demolish or renovate derelict buildings on their land.

A building is considered derelict if it has been vacant, boarded up, and disconnected from any utilities (electric, water, and sewer service) for six months, and it poses a risk to public health, safety, or welfare.

Property owners who wish to participate in the real estate tax abatement program must plan to either fix up or tear down the abandoned building and have the commissioner of revenue assess the property in its current condition.

The property owners must submit a building permit application noting the cost of the demolition or the materials and labor for the renovation.

At the property owners’ request, once the demolition or renovation is complete, the commissioner of revenue will determine the fair market value of the demolition or building improvements, which will be reflected in the real estate tax assessment records.

The financial benefit for the property owners is a 15-year reduction on their real estate tax bills. The property owners would still pay real estate taxes during the 15-year period, but not on the value of the demolition or building improvements as determined by the commissioner of revenue.  

Duer claimed, “It’s not as good as it sounds,” but the program does provide an incentive for property owners to either remove or improve buildings in poor condition, he said.

If the county determines a building is derelict, the owner must be notified in writing. Upon delivery of the written notification, the owner has 90 days to submit a letter to the county declaring plans to demolish or renovate the building. If the county receives no such declaration within 90 days, it may secure the building and either repair or remove the nuisance, according to Virginia law.

Exmore Police Chief Angelo DiMartino reported that enforcement of the town’s blight ordinance, regarding the removal of trash or debris from private property, is going well and residents have been generally cooperative.

DiMartino continues to work toward gaining control of the muskrat population infesting the drainage ditches along Hadlock Road. He has spoken with representatives of both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Virginia Department of Transportation. 

DiMartino said VDOT will allow town workers to eliminate the infestation in the drainage ditches provided they stay on the sides of the ditches that are farthest from the road. The next step is to obtain a kill permit, he said.

Brenda Holden is concerned about tree overgrowth on Temple Drive at the railroad crossing. Duer said he was unsure if the crossing belonged to the railroad or VDOT, but he would find the answer and notify her.

In another matter, the town council passed a motion to write a resolution stating Exmore’s opposition to offshore drilling.

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