Selectmen turn attention to blight

BEACON FALLS — The Board of Selectmen started the discussion on how to attack blight Monday night.

“Everybody on the board is probably well aware of the fact that we have been getting a number of blight complaints from people around town,” First Selectman Christopher Bielik said.

The discussion comes after members of the Economic Development Commission raised concerns that blight in town could have a negative impact on local businesses and hurt attracting new businesses. In addition, officials said residents have been voicing concerns about areas of blight around downtown.

The town has a blight ordinance that governs the process to deal with blight. The ordinance gives the town the power to force the cleanup of blighted properties and fine violators $100 a day until the blight has been remediated.

Selectman Peter Betkoski questions whether the ordinance needs to be rewritten.

Selectman Michael Krenesky felt most of what the town needs is already in the ordinance. He said the question is whether the town needs to put some teeth behind it.

The main issues facing the town when it comes to blight is the zoning enforcement officer position is vacant and the town’s Blight Commission has been dormant for a number of years.

Under the ordinance, the zoning enforcement officer is the one who issues violation notices and cease and desist orders to blighted properties, Bielik explained. The town does not currently have a zoning enforcement officer. Building Official Jim Tucciarone is also the acting zoning enforcement officer.

With the Building Department short staffed, Tucciarone isn’t able to dedicate as much time as needed to blight concerns. Bielik previously said there is no money in the budget currently to hire a zoning enforcement officer.

Bielik said Monday the Planning and Zoning Commission is supposed to recommend a potential zoning enforcement officer to the board, but both the commission and the board have been lax in moving that position forward. The board is expected to meet with the Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday to discuss the matter.

Bielik said the Blight Commission currently has members, but is not active. He said resident Doug Bousquet is trying to spearhead a revival of the commission and has expressed interest in heading it.

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