Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following terms shall for the purpose of this chapter, have the following meanings:
   (a)    "Authorized agent" means a person that resides within Knox County, Ohio who shall be authorized in writing by the owner or person in control of a vacant commercial, industrial and institutional building to be responsible for the security and maintenance of the building, who shall have access to the building and who shall be available at all times during business and non-business hours in the case that an emergency occurs requiring immediate response and/or to make immediate repairs.
   (b)    "Commercial, industrial, or institutional" property means any building, or part thereof, that is used, or designed to be used for any private or public manufacturing, industrial, commercial business, or institutional purposes whether or not legally zoned for such use.
   (c)    (1)    "Evidence of vacancy", with respect to a parcel of land, means any of the following:
         A.   No building, structure, or other improvement that is subject to taxation and that is located on the parcel is inhabited;
         B.   No trade or business is actively being conducted on the parcel by the owner, a tenant, or another party occupying the parcel pursuant to a lease or other legal authority, or in a building, structure, or other improvement that is subject to taxation and that is located on the parcel;
         C.   The parcel is uninhabited and there are no signs that it is undergoing a change in tenancy and remains legally habitable, or that it is undergoing improvements, as indicated by an application for a building zoning permit or other facts indicating that the parcel is experiencing on going improvements.
      (2)    For purposes of division (c) (1) of this section, it is prima-facie evidence and a rebuttable presumption that may be rebutted to the county board of revision Knox County Auditor that a parcel of land is vacant if, at the time the Knox County Auditor makes the certification under section 5721.011 of the Revised Code, the parcel is not agricultural land, and two or more of the following apply:
         A.   At the time of the inspection of the parcel by a county, municipal corporation, the PMEO and/or Fire Chief in which the parcel is located, no person, trade, or business inhabits, or is visibly present from an exterior inspection of the parcel.
         B.   No utility connections, including, but not limited to, water, sewer, natural gas, or electric connections, service the parcel, or no such utility connections are actively being billed by any utility provider regarding the parcel.
         C.   The parcel or any improvement thereon is boarded up or otherwise sealed because, immediately prior to being boarded up or sealed, it was deemed by a political subdivision pursuant to its municipal, county, state, or federal authority to be open, vacant, or vandalized.
         D.   The parcel or any improvement thereon is, upon visible inspection, insecure unsecured, vacant, or vandalized.
   (d)    "Fire Chief" means the Fire Chief of the City of Mount Vernon or his or her designee.
   (e)    "Fire Code" means the most currently accepted and circulated version of the Ohio Fire Code.
   (f)    "Fire Department" means the Fire Department of the City of Mount Vernon.
   (g)    "Key box" means a secure device, manufactured by Knox Box, with a lock operable only by a fire department master key, and containing building entry keys and other keys that may be required for access in an emergency.
   (h)    "Owner" means any person who, alone, or jointly or severally with others, shall have the legal or equitable title to a property, and shall include executors, administrators, trustees or guardians of the estate of the owner, and any purchaser or assignee under a certificate of sale pursuant to a mortgage foreclosure as evidenced by the signature of the judge upon the confirmation of sale, whether or not the deed has been filed with the Knox County Recorder's Office. The term "owner" shall also include partnerships, corporations, and other unincorporated associations. Any individual owner, regardless of whether he or she shares ownership responsibility with any other person, any general partner of a partnership, and any officer of a corporation or unincorporated association, shall have direct and personal responsibility and liability for compliance with the provisions of this Chapter.
   (i)    "Person" means an individual, partnership, association, syndicate, company, firm, trust, corporation, government corporation, department, bureau, agency, or any entity recognized by law.
   (j)    "Person in control" means the owner of the property; a mortgagee or vendee in possession; a receiver; an executor; a trustee; and any person, public or private entity, lessee or holder of a lesser estate in the property, and/or its duly authorized agent(s), with the authority to bring a building or property into compliance with the provisions of this Chapter, including but not limited to any mortgagee that has filed an action in foreclosure on the particular property at issue, based on breach or default of a mortgage agreement, until title to the property is transferred to a third party.
   (k)    "Property" means not only the vacant commercial, industrial or institutional building and any other structures of any kind or nature located on the property, but also the entire parcel of land surrounding the vacant commercial, industrial or institutional building, including, but not limited to, fences, walkways, walls, and appurtenances.
   (l)    "PMEO" means the Property Maintenance Enforcement Officer (or Office) of the City of Mount Vernon or his or her designee.
   (m)    "Vacant commercial, industrial or institutional building" means a commercial, industrial or institutional building that is not occupied by its owner, lessee or other person in lawful possession, or at which substantially all lawful manufacturing, industrial, institutional or commercial business operations and/or occupancy has ceased, or which is substantially devoid of content.
      (Ord. 2019-24. Passed 5-13-19.)