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New Fairfield residents to vote on proposed blight ordinance

There's a vote scheduled in New Fairfield today on a blight ordinance.  The proposed law provides special considerations for those who are elderly, disabled or low income and unable to complete repairs on their own. It also requires a written complaint, an investigation, a hearing, and a plan including a timeline for remediation before any action can taken by the Town.  The vote is from noon to 8pm at Meeting House Hill School.

Any building, structure or parcel of land, …in which at least one of the following conditions exists:

A. It is dilapidated or becoming dilapidated as documented by the Building Official. (Dilapidated is defined as any building or structure or part thereof which is deemed an unsafe structure or which is designated as unfit for human habitation by the Building Official or Director of Health.)

B. It is dilapidated and attracting illegal activity as documented by the Police Department.

C. It is dilapidated and is a fire hazard as determined by the Fire Marshal or as documented by the Fire Department.

D. It is determined by the Blight Prevention Board, the Building Official, the Fire Marshal or by the Director of the Health that the condition of the building, structure or parcel of land poses a serious or imminent danger to the safety, health or general welfare of the community.

E. It is not being adequately maintained. Factors that may be considered in determining whether it is not being adequately maintained include but are not limited to:

1) More than one missing, broken, or boarded windows or doors.
2) Collapsing or missing walls, roof, or floors.
3) Damaged, missing siding, exceeding 25 percent of the surface area of the structure.
4) A structurally faulty foundation.
5) Garbage or trash stored on the premises in excess of 30 days.
6) More than one motor vehicle that is inoperable for more than 120 days or not registered with the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles pursuant to the Connecticut General Statutes, including C.G.S. § 14-12 et seq., including cars, trucks, boats, motor homes, camp trailers, campers and motorcycles; boats or other inoperable machinery on the premises visible from the street or any adjoining property. This paragraph shall not apply to “permitted uses” as determined by Town of New Fairfield Zoning Regulations.
7) Rodent harborage and/or infestation.
8. Unrepaired external fire damage.
9) Parking lots and building lots left in a state of disrepair or abandonment for more than 120 days.

Properties exempted from the definition of blighted premises include:
A. Any building or structure undergoing active remodeling, restoration, repair, or renovation, provided that the blighted condition will be corrected thereby and that the period thereof will not exceed one year from the date of receipt by the Blight Prevention Board of a written complaint.
B. Farms defined as follows: A lot consisting of three or more acres classified as farm land by the Town of New Fairfield Assessor pursuant to Public Act 490.

Special consideration may be given to those who require it in order to correct a violation of the ordinance and who establish “good cause” which includes, but is not limited to, an elderly individual who is unable to personally correct a violation due to his or her age; a disabled individual who is unable to personally correct a violation due to his or her disability; a low-income individual who is unable to correct a violation due to cost; or an exempt property as defined above. In determining whether good cause exists, the Blight Prevention Board shall consider whether other occupants of the premises are able to assist in correcting the violation in a timely fashion and whether the severity of the violation is such that additional time is not warranted.

The Ordinance establishes a Blight Prevention Board made up of five members who shall be appointed by the First Selectman with the consent of the Board of Selectmen. The Board shall be made up of the Fire Marshal, Health Director, Building Official, Zoning Enforcement Officer and one member of the public at large, serving for a term of three (3) years, commencing upon the date when such member is appointed. The Board shall oversee the review and enforcement process which includes an investigation of any written complaint of blighted premises, a written notice to the property owner or occupant, a hearing within 14 to 30 days of the complaint, and a written notice of determination. If the Board determines that a violation of the Ordinance does exist, a Notice of Violation will be issued stating the violation and the date upon which the violation shall be remedied. Violations that are not remedied by the prescribed date, the owner/occupant shall be subject to fines and a citation. If the owner fails to remedy the violation, the Town may remediate the cause of the violation at the expense of the owner.

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Todd Schnitt

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