Draft blight ordinance heads to hearing

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PROSPECT — After months of the work, the town is sending a proposed blight ordinance to a public hearing.

The hearing will be held Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 36 Center St.

“Prospect is one of the last towns in the area to adopt a formal blight ordinance,” Town Council Chairman Thomas Galvin said. “The Town Council’s Ordinance Subcommittee took a great deal of time looking at what other towns were doing and essentially copied selected pieces and parts if they made sense for a town like Prospect.”

The point of the ordinance is to define, prohibit, and abate blighted properties in town and to ensure the safety and welfare of residents, the draft ordinance states.

The proposed ordinance would create an anti-blight commission to review blight complaints and issue warnings and citations.

The proposed ordinance also defines what constitutes blight, including having inoperable vehicles on a property, having a property that is not adequately maintained, and, from May 1 through the end of October, having grass that is more than a foot in height.

Town Council member Theresa Graveline, who chairs the Ordinance Subcommittee, said the process laid out in the ordinance would be complaint-driven.

Under the proposed ordinance any individual, civic organization, municipal agency or town employee would be able to file a written complaint. The anti-blight commission would consider the complaint and, if it warranted action, would send a warning citation to the owner of the property.

The citation allows up to 30 days for the property owner to remediate the blight on the property. If the blight is not remediated the commission would fine the violator $100 a day, under the draft ordinance.

“As soon as the property owner notifies the town that they have done what they were asked to do, the town verifies it and the penalties end,” Graveline said.

A property owner who is found in violation of the ordinance can appeal the decision.
Galvin said the penalty is there to attract the property owner’s attention and have them remediate the problem.

“The hope is that we never collect a dime, but that the reported problem gets resolved,” Galvin said.

If the issue is not cleaned up, the anti-blight commission has the authorization to do the work either through a private company or the Public Works Department, according to the proposal. If this occurs, the property owner would be charged for the remediation.

Both Galvin and Graveline emphasized the town will not go after individuals itself.

“The whole process is set up so when complaints come in we will have the means in place to respond to those complaints,” Graveline said.

The Town Council will discuss the ordinance during its regularly scheduled meeting following the public hearing. The final decision whether to accept the ordinance will be made by the council. The ordinance takes effect 30 days after the council approves it.

Copies of the ordinance are available online at townofprospect.com, at Town Hall, the Prospect Senior Center and the Prospect Public Library.