Council looking into ordinance to curb blight



PROSPECT — The Town Council is moving towards the creation of a blight ordinance.

According to Mayor Robert Chatfield the town does not currently have a blight ordinance on the books, although it had previously looked into the idea.

“I want to renew the effort,” Chatfield said. “Most blight problems are houses owned by banks or mortgage companies that leave them empty.”

Town Council Chairman Thomas Galvin said the council is currently in the process of appointing an ordinance subcommittee, which will look into the matter.

“We know it’s something we want to do but it’s not as easy as one would think. It has to be something that everyone can understand and is fair for everyone,” Galvin said.

Galvin said once the subcommittee is appointed, it will be tasked with developing a proposal to bring before the council. If the council agrees with the proposal it will be sent off to the town attorney to ensure it is compliant with the state laws, he said. After it comes back to town a public hearing on the ordinance will be held. It would become an official ordinance 30 days after a hearing if the council adopts it.

Galvin said the council hopes to appoint an ordinance subcommittee within the next 30 days.

“Nothing that is imminent, but we endeavor to complete it as soon as possible,” Galvin said.

Galvin said the council has gathered blight ordinances from other towns to help craft its own.

“No two towns are the same. That’s why we’re looking at communities that are the same size and character as Prospect,” Galvin said.

Chatfield said blighted properties distract from the rural character of the town. Since there is no ordinance in place to force these properties to be cleaned up, Chatfield has tried taking matters into his own hands.

“What I have been doing now when somebody complains to me about an unsightly house is, I will go into town clerk’s office, get foreclosure documents, and send a letter to people responsible. I will also send a notice of the foreclosure document to neighbors, along with the phone number of the company that owns the house,” Chatfield said. “Hopefully they can get actions out of this.”

Although this is the primary ordinance the town is considering now, Chatfield said the town needs to update many of its current ordinances as well.

Chatfield said there are still ordinances from as early as the 1940s in the book, including ordinances from when Prospect was a dry town in the 1960s.

“I want to go through ordinances book, do a few new ones and redo the ordinance book to make it look more professional,” Chatfield said.

Although the town has had problems with blight, Chatfield said, it could be worse.

“One thing in our favor is we don’t have empty industrial commercial buildings. Most of our blight problems are single family homes that have been foreclosed upon,” Chatfield said.