WILMINGTON, Del. — New Castle County Council has voted to impose fines for persistently vacant homes and commercial buildings.

Media outlets report that the council voted Tuesday to approve the new $1,000 fine. Officials estimate that there are more than 1,300 vacant and abandoned properties within unincorporated areas of the county.

The county created a registry system created two years ago, but owners only added a few hundred homes. The vote gives county officials the power to register vacant homes and assess a one-time $1,000 fee. That fine is in addition to annual fees that start at $100 in the first year and escalate to $5,000 at 10 years.

Property owners who register vacant properties themselves aren’t subject to the one-time fee. The rules also apply to commercial buildings.

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