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Butte sets new ordinance for vacant buildings

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BUTTE, Mont. - Officials tell NBC Montana there are hundreds of vacant buildings in Butte-Silver Bow, so they passed a new ordinance tor keep track of the owners in case of any issues come up.

City leaders said there are over 500 vacant buildings sit in Silver Bow County. Some are obviously empty, while others are a little harder to tell.

Now city officials are cracking down.

The Council of Commissioners approved a new ordinance requiring property owners to register their buildings within 180 days of them becoming vacant and then re-register each year.

"It's just a tool for us to use to keep track of responsible property owners so that when they register we know who to contact if we have an issue with the property or need to address some problems or concerns we might have or neighbors might have," said Butte-Silver Bow Commissioner Brendan McDonough.

Some of the issues include dangerous structural damage and increased crime, like vandalism and trespassing, which has already been a problem for some living in Uptown Butte.

"There is a lot of vacant buildings up this way, and I notice a lot of homeless people are entering them," said Butte resident Lisa Tebeau.

Tebeau said it's vacant buildings that are all boarded up that makes the rest of their neighborhood look bad.

"It just doesn't look good. There's a lot of places that look nice up here, like my place is a nice place and it just doesn't do any justice for the city at all," Tebeau said.

The ordinance considers a building vacant if it is unoccupied and either unsecured, dangerous, posted, or has city-county violations. It could also be considered vacant if it is posted and illegally occupied.

The new ordinance goes into effect on July 15.

The first year registration will be free to property owners and then after that it will cost $25 each year that the property is vacant.

Violators face up to $500 in fines and each day could be a separate offense.

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