PLAINVILLE - The Southington Town Council voted to amend the town blight ordinance Monday, with revisions intended to give town leaders more power to enforce property codes.
“The purpose is to give the current ordinance more teeth to tackle what is seen as a big issue in town,” said Town Attorney Carolyn Futtner, prior to a public hearing. “Previously, complaints would not be reviewed unless complaints were written and signed. Complaints will now be reviewed to the fullest extent possible even if they are not signed. This allows for some anonymity if they were to make a complaint against their neighbor.”
Those guilty of blight will be fined the maximum amount of $250 per day that the problem persists. Additionally, the town attorney can now take blight issues to court and prosecute it.
“This new ordinance will be much more effective and better able to protect our residents and our town property values,” said council Chairman Chris Palmieri.
Futtner noted that people will be given a 15 day period to address the issue once notified before fines kick in. If someone buys a blighted property they will have 30 days to fix it up instead.
Councilor Dawn Miceli read a letter from a resident into the public record in favor of the revision. The woman who wrote the letter said she had complained and faced years of retaliation from her neighbors.
Five other residents came to the podium to support the change, citing problems with blight in their neighborhoods.
One resident said blight issues had been unresolved in town since 1953.
“I have guys who don’t mow their lawns and car parts and tires lying in their driveways,” he said. “Something has got to be done to help all neighborhoods. People should be proud of their properties.”
John Angellilo said that he has been trying to sell his property but has been unable to due to a neighbor’s blighted property.
“This has been going on for 25 years,” he said. “These people have a disease called hoarding. It’s like they have an illegal junkyard.”
Dale Deckert said that she feels she can’t have an outdoor picnic because she is embarrassed by her neighbors’ nearby blighted property.
“If you’re going to write this revision, enforce it,” she urged the council.
Residents Jim Merriman and Ruth Auben both said that it was good that residents could now submit anonymous complaints.
“Otherwise, people won’t speak up,” said Merriman.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.