[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town of North Haven 9-27-2011 Special Town Meeting; amended in its entirety 5-14-2012 Annual Town Meeting. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and declared that there may exist within the Town of North Haven certain real properties which are in a blighted condition and whose continued existence in such condition adversely affects the economic well-being of the Town of North Haven, contributes to the decline of neighborhoods, and jeopardizes the health, safety, welfare, and/or quality of life of persons within the Town of North Haven. It is further found that many of the properties which exist in a blighted condition can be rehabilitated and that rehabilitation would eliminate, remedy, and prevent the adverse effects previously described. This chapter is enacted pursuant to § 7-148(c)(7)(H)(xv) of the Municipal Powers Act of the State of Connecticut General Statutes and seeks to encourage rehabilitation of blighted premises.
When used in this chapter, the terms below shall have the following meanings:
- BLIGHTED PREMISES
- Real property, including any building or structure located thereon, which is and continues to be in a state of disrepair or is becoming dilapidated as defined below.
- BLIGHT PREVENTION OFFICER
- The Town of North Haven official to serve as the Blight Prevention Officer shall be the Building Official or a member of his/her department so designated.
- BUILDING or STRUCTURE
- 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 on any real property. The words "building" or "structure" shall be construed as if followed by the words "or part(s) thereof." Accessory buildings or structures, canopies, awnings, marquees, and each and every type of portable equipment shall be considered "building" or "structures" within the meaning of this definition.
- STATE OF DISREPAIR or BECOMING DILAPIDATED
- In a physically deteriorating condition which, if left unabated, would cause an unsightly, unsafe, or unsanitary condition or a nuisance to the general public which may be evidenced by one or more of the following conditions:
- A. Multiple missing, broken or boarded up windows and/or doors;
- B. Damaged or missing siding;
- C. Infestation by rodents or other pests;
- D. Excessive amounts of garbage or trash on the property;
- E. 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;
- F. Commercial parking lots left in a state of disrepair or abandonment;
- G. Overgrown brush, overgrown grass, and/or weeds of at least one foot in height, excluding ornamental grass as part of a landscaped property;
- H. Graffiti;
- I. Any other evidence that reasonably demonstrates that a property would cause an unsightly, unsafe, or unsanitary condition or a nuisance to the general public.
No owner of real property located in the Town of North Haven shall allow, create, maintain, or cause to be created or maintained, a blighted premises.
Upon the observation of the Blight Prevention Officer and/or upon receiving a written complaint of a possible violation of this chapter signed by the complainant in his/her legal name, the Blight Prevention Officer shall initiate an investigation.
If after completing an investigation, the Blight Prevention Officer determines that a violation of this chapter exists on certain real property, he/she shall issue a notice of violation by leaving a copy of such notice of violation with the owner(s) of the real property on which the violation exists or by affixing the notice of violation to the blighted premises. The Blight Prevention Officer shall also send a copy of the notice of violation by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the owner(s).
The notice of violation shall inform the owner(s) of the real property on which the violation exists of the following:
The address of the real property on which the violation exists;
The allegations against the property owner(s), including the conditions existing on the real property which evidence the violation;
The amount of fines, penalties, costs, or fees due or that may be due pursuant to § 84-5 herein;
That the property owner(s) must remedy the violation(s) of this chapter within 30 calendar days of the notice of violation or such longer period as permitted by the Blight Prevention Officer in his/her discretion;
That the property owner(s) may contest liability before the Blight Prevention Appeals Board by delivering in person or by mail written notice of such request to the Blight Prevention Officer within 10 calendar days of the notice of violation;
That, if the property owner(s) does not demand such a hearing or remedy the violation(s), an assessment and judgment shall be entered against the property owner(s);
That the judgment may issue without further notice.
As permitted by the hearing procedure for citations set forth in Connecticut General Statutes § 7-152c, which the Town of North Haven specifically adopts herein, the First Selectman shall appoint, with the approval of the Board of Selectmen, six residents of the Town of North Haven to serve on the Blight Prevention Appeals Board, with five residents to serve as regular members and one resident to serve as an alternate member of the Board. No appointed member shall be a police officer, employee of the Town of North Haven, or a person who issues citations. All members of the Blight Prevention Appeals Board shall be appointed for terms not to exceed two years and shall take office on the first business day in January following a general Town election. The powers, duties, and responsibilities of the Blight Prevention Appeals Board shall be those set forth for citation hearing officers in Connecticut General Statutes § 7-152c and this chapter.
If 1) no hearing has been requested within 10 calendar days of the notice of violation and 2) the violation has not been remedied within 30 calendar days of the notice of violation or such longer period as permitted by the Blight Prevention Officer, the property owner(s)' of the real property on which the violation exists shall be deemed to have admitted liability and the Blight Prevention Officer shall certify such property owner(s) failure to respond to the notice of violation to the Blight Prevention Appeals Board. The Board shall thereupon issue a citation by delivering same to the property owner(s) in the same manner prescribed above for the initial notice of violation and assess the fines, penalties, costs, or fees provided for in § 84-5 of this chapter unless, pursuant to its discretion afforded below, it determines that certain circumstances exist which warrant a delay in citation or assessment. The date of the citation shall commence the daily fine established in § 84-5.
If the property owner(s) who has/have been issued a notice of violation request(s) a hearing within 10 calendar days of the notice of violation in the manner required above, a hearing will be scheduled and conducted before the Blight Prevention Appeals Board in accordance with the requirements contained Connecticut General Statutes § 7-152c(e). As noted therein, the Blight Prevention Appeals Board shall announce its decision at the end of the hearing. If the Board determines that the property owner(s) is/are not liable, the Board shall dismiss the matter and enter its determination in writing. If the Board determines that the property owner(s) is/are liable for the violation, it shall forthwith enter and assess the fines, penalties, costs, or fees against such person as provided in this chapter unless, pursuant to its discretion afforded below, it determines that certain circumstances exist which warrant a delay in citation or assessment.
Prior to issuing a citation or assessing fines under this chapter, the Blight Prevention Appeals Board may give special consideration to property owner(s) who are disabled, elderly, or low income who cannot maintain a reasonable level of upkeep of the real property at which they reside. In such circumstances, the Board may allow the property owner(s) a reasonable amount of time to remedy the violation, the duration of which shall be in the discretion of the Board but shall not exceed six months from the hearing date or from the date of the notice of violation where a hearing is not requested. In order to exercise its discretion, the Board shall require either testimony or a written affidavit from each affected property owner (if they are truly unable to appear in person before the Board for a hearing) attesting that no person resides at the real property who can perform the necessary maintenance, yard work, etc., to remedy the violation and the property owner is unable to afford to hire the services of a third-party contractor to perform the remedial services.
A property owner shall be considered disabled if he/she has a mental or physical disability as defined under the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) including the changes made by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.
A property owner shall be considered elderly if he/she is over the age of 65 years old.
A property owner shall be considered low income if his/her household gross annual income for the previous calendar year was equal to or less than 150% of the poverty level, according to the poverty guidelines updated periodically in the Federal Register by the United States Department of Health and Human Services under the authority of 42 U.S.C. § 9902(2).
A violation(s) of the provisions of this chapter shall be punishable by a fine of $100 per day for each day a violation continues to exist. The date the citation was issued by the Blight Prevention Appeals Board shall be the commencement date for said fine.
A property owner against whom a citation or assessment has been entered under this chapter may appeal the decision of the Blight Prevention Appeals Board as provided in Connecticut General Statutes.
The failure to pay the citation or assessment of any fine(s) by the Blight Prevention Appeals Board may result in the entry of judgment by the Superior Court as provided by Connecticut General Statutes § 7-152c(f).
Pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148aa, any unpaid fine imposed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall constitute a lien upon the real property against which the fine was imposed from the date of such fine. Each such lien may be continued, recorded, and released in the manner provided by Connecticut General Statutes for continuing, recording, and releasing property tax liens. Each such lien shall take precedence over all other liens filed after July 1, 1997, and encumbrances except taxes and may be enforced in the same manner as property tax liens.
If a provision of this chapter is found to be in conflict with a provision of any building, fire, zoning, safety, or health ordinance, regulation, or other law of the Town or State of Connecticut and such provision of this chapter establishes a higher standard for the promotion and protection of the health, safety, welfare, and/or quality of life of North Haven residents, the provision of this chapter shall be enforceable pursuant to the procedures established herein. In addition, this chapter is not intended to affect violations of any other ordinances, regulations, or codes, and such violations shall continue to be subject to enforcement under the provisions of said ordinances, regulations, or codes in effect at the time the violation occurred as well as enforcement of this chapter as appropriate.
Nothing in any portion of this chapter shall in any manner be construed as authorizing or legalizing the creation or maintenance of a nuisance. Furthermore, if a property owner(s) remedies blighted premises in response to a notice of violation or citation issued under this chapter, any such remedy shall not bar a claim by any person. A violation of any portion of this chapter shall not be deemed to create a nuisance per se.
If any provision of this chapter or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held to be invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of any other part of this chapter which can be given effect without the invalid provisions or application; and to this end, the provisions of this chapter and the various applications thereof are declared to be severable.