Blighted property is dangerous, lowers the value of our town, and is downright unpleasant to look at let alone live next to. However, if your property has managed to deteriorate to such conditions, pay attention because it could cost you.
According to the Blight Prevention Ordinance passed in September of 2011, owners deemed responsible for property that is considered to be blighted could face a fine of up to $100 for every day the issue has not been rectified.
"I believe that most owners of blighted properties don’t even realize that they are in violation," said Robin Clark of the Blight Prevention Board of Appeals. "Likewise, many people who live near these blighted properties may not know that there is something they can do to take action.
The ordinance defines a blighted premises as "real property, including any building or structure locatedthereon, which is and continues to be in a state of disrepair or is becoming dilapidated."
More specifically, a state of dilapidation and/or disrepair is assigned under the following conditions: multiple missing, broken or boarded up windows and/or doors; damaged or missing siding; infestation by rodents or other pests; excessive amounts of garbage or trash on the property; not more than one inoperative or unregistered motor vehicles or visibly inoperative boats parked, kept, or stored on the property unless garaged in a permanent structure on the property; commercial parking lots left in a state of disrepair or abandonment; overgrown brush, overgrown grass, and/or weeds of at least one foot in height, excluding ornamental grass as part of a landscaped property; graffiti; any other evidence that reasonably demonstrates that a property would cause an unsightly, unsafe, or unsanitary condition or a nuisance to thegeneral public.
If a Blight Prevention Officer of the Blight Prevention Appeals Board, which is appointed and approved by the Board of Selectmen, discovers or is notified of any of the previously listed infractions, a notice of violation will be affixed to the blighted property and a notice may also be sent via mail to the last known address of the owner of said property.
According to the ordinance, blighted characteristics can be applied to "an edifice of any kind or any piece of work artificially built or composed of parts joined together in some form which is built or constructed onany real property" as well as "accessory buildings or structures, canopies, awnings, marquees, andeach and every type of portable equipment."
Unless approved otherwise by the Blight Prevention Officer, the owner of premises deemed blighted has 30 calendar days from the date the notice of violation was posted to remedy the violations identified. Should the property owner choose to contest liability before the Blight Prevention Appeals Board, he/she must deliver a written notice to the Blight Prevention Officer within 10 calendar days from the date the notice of violation was posted.
If the property owner fails to remedy the violations within 30 days or contest liability within 10 days, he/she will shall be deemed to have admitted liability, the Blight Prevention Board of Appeals will be notified of the failure to respond, a citation will be affixed to the blighted property, and the daily fines of $100 will commence on the date the citation is posted.
Special consideration will be given in circumstances in which the property owner is deemed eldery, disabled or low income. Any persons 65 years of age or older is considered elderly, any persons defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act is considered mentally/physically diabled, and any persons whose household gross annual income for the previous calendar year was equal to or less than 150 percent of the poverty level is considered low income.
"It is important that North Haven residents and business owners are aware of this ordinance," said Clark, "as it will allow people to report homes and businesses that are in violation, and could potentially result in fines to the owner of the blighted property if the issue is not resolved in a timely manner."
To review the Blight Prevention Ordinance or to find out more information on submitting a complaint, view the attached PDF or attend the Blight Prevention Board of Appeals' first meeting at Town Hall on April 17 at 7 p.m.