Yorktown IN gets tough on downtown land owners

New law reuqires registration of abandoned buildings

By Rick Yencer

YORKTOWN, INDIANA (news)  Fed up with an empty downtown on Smith Street, Yorktown Town Council decided Tuesday to crackdown on property owners whose buildings stand empty.

More than 10 storefronts in the Delaware County town have fore sale signs or just papaer draped over empty windows. Local government came up with a plan recently to rebuild the downtown, including taking steps to fill empty storefronts.

Council voted 5-2 to impose the registration and maintenance requirements for property owners in an area defined as Tiger and Adaline drives and High and Canal streets.

Any vacant building found by the town zoning administrator can be required to get a permit, have a prperty manager, pay a fee and get a plan to occupy the building.

Council President Robert Ratchford said the town would work with property owners as fellow council member Rich Lee said the law was one of the steps in the downtown plan recently drafted,

Other council members like Rick Glaub did not believe the law would hold up in court and was too much like California where he once lived that was over regulated. Council member Dan Flanagan voted against the law although his father, council member Bob Flanagan supported it.

Some property owners like Doug and Leslie Baim wanted to know if the regulation could be extended to the entire town since they had abandoned homes along their road. They worried about possible meth operations, but the town decided to restrict the area after more property owners objected to regulating abandoned properties that also could include homes or businesses for sale.

And Mike Kilgore, who owns Friendly Package Liquors, asked about seasonal businesses that are only open in the summer.

Town Manager Pete Olson said the law included a waiver decided by himself and council leaders that would forgive any registration.

But property owners could still face penalties for long term vacancies and no plans to sell or reuse the property.

The old Ross Store on Smith has been abandoned for years and a newer commercial retail store building next to town hall also has sat empty recently.

The town does plan to offer help to property owners to fix up their businesses. Facade loans up to $15,000 will be available this spring from the town's redevelopment commission. 

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