Derelict site owners face levy

OWNERS of derelict sites in Killarney could be faced with a levy from January next, unless they co-operate with the local town council and bring their properties up to standard.

Under the Derelict Sites Act, the council has the power to impose a levy calculated at 3% of the market value of a site, which management plans to do early in the new year.

However, Killarney mayor Donal Grady yesterday said the council’s preference was to work through dialogue and consultation with site owners.

“We’ve already received a lot of co-operation from people who have been cleaning up derelict sites.

“The levy is provided for in national legislation, but is something I personally would be very slow to bring in. The best way to do things would be to get people to cooperate.

“Taking action like bringing people to court would be a last resort.”

Upwards of 80 sites have been surveyed in Killarney, this year, and seven were entered on the derelict sites register. One was later removed after the necessary work was carried out.

The council threatened to list historic Killarney House, in the register, but the Government has since provided funds to repair the roof, windows and doors and to tackle dampness in the state-owned building, which was once home to the wealthy McShain family.

The cleaning up of derelict sites is part of a huge community-backed effort in the tourist haven to win the top award in the Tidy Towns competition.

This year, Killarney won seven awards in the competition, including the prize for the best large town.

Mr Grady called for “one big effort,” in 2011, to scoop the outright prize.

“Many volunteers are now involved in Tidy Towns in Killarney and surrounding areas,” he said.

“We’ve been just a few marks short of top prize, in the past few years and I’m asking people to aim for an improvement of five marks this year. That should be enough to push us over the line.”

Kerry County Council, meanwhile, has reported a significant success in dealing with derelict sites but has pledged to continue pursuing uncooperative site owners.

Last year, the council targeted eyesores in towns and villages along principal tourist routes and in some of the larger towns.

The result was a drop in the number of sites on the derelict register from 140 to 108. Notices had to be issued to 68 property owners telling them they would be added to the register if they did not take action.

In a large number of cases, site owners co-operated in rectifying the situation, without the need to serve any statutory notice, according to the council.

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