[HISTORY: Adopted by Town Council of the Town of Farmington 12-16-1997. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Building construction — See Ch. 83.
Demolition of buildings — See Ch. 86.
Citation hearing procedure — See Ch. 91.
Housing standards — See Ch. 118.
Zoning regulations — See Ch. 197.
Editor's Note: This ordinance also provided for an effective date of February 23, 1998.
It is hereby found and declared that there exists within the Town of Farmington a number of taxable and tax-exempt real properties which contain vacant blighted buildings. It is further found that the existence of these vacant blighted buildings adversely affects property values within the Town and threatens the health, safety and general welfare of its residents.
The following definitions shall apply in the interpretation and enforcement of this chapter:
- BLIGHTED PREMISES
- Any vacant building or structure, or any vacant part of a structure that is a separate unit, or a vacant parcel of land, and in which at least one of the additional following conditions exists:
- A. The Building Official determines that existing conditions pose a serious threat to the health and safety of persons in the Town.
- B. It is not being maintained and contributes to housing decay, as evidenced by the existence of one or more of the following conditions:
- (1) Missing or boarded windows or doors;
- (2) Collapsing or missing walls, roof or floor;
- (3) Exterior walls which contain holes, breaks, loose or rotting materials or which are not properly surface coated to prevent deterioration;
- (4) Foundation walls which contain open cracks and breaks;
- (5) Overhang extensions, including but not limited to canopies, marquees, signs, awnings, stairways, fire escapes, standpipes and exhaust ducts which contain rust or other decay;
- (6) Chimneys and similar appurtenances which are in a state of disrepair;
- (7) Insect screens which contain tears or ragged edges;
- (8) Vermin infestation;
- (9) Garbage, trash or abandoned vehicles on the premises (unless the premises is a junkyard licensed by the State of Connecticut);
- (10) Overgrown grass or weeds at least one foot in height; or
- (11) Graffiti.
- C. Illegal activities are conducted at the premises, as documented in Police Department records.
- D. It is a fire hazard as determined by the Fire Marshal or as documented in Fire Department records.
- E. It is a factor creating a substantial and unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of other premises within the surrounding area as documented by neighborhood complaints, police reports or the cancellation of insurance on proximate properties.
- BUILDING CITATION HEARING OFFICER
- An individual(s) appointed by the Town Manager to conduct hearings authorized by Chapter 91.
- BUILDING OFFICIAL
- Such individual as is designated by the Town Manager to administer the state building code and to enforce building ordinances.
- LEGAL OCCUPANCY
- Occupancy in accordance with state building, state fire, local zoning, local housing and all other pertinent codes.
- An area of the Town comprised of all premises or parcels of land any part of which is within a radius of 1,000 feet of any part of another parcel or lot within the Town.
- Any person, firm, institution, partnership, corporation, foundation, entity or authority who or which holds title to real property or any mortgage or other secured or equitable interest in such property, as appears in the Farmington land records.
- PROXIMATE PROPERTY
- Any premises or parcel of land or part thereof within 1,000 feet of a blighted premises.
- A continuous period of 60 days or longer during which a building or structure or part thereof is not legally occupied by human beings.
- VACANT PARCEL
- A parcel of land with no structure(s) thereon.
No owner of real property, taxable or tax-exempt, within the Town of Farmington shall cause or allow blighted premises to be created, nor shall any owner allow the continued existence of blighted premises.
Immediately following enactment of this chapter, the Town Manager shall request that all Town department heads report any property of which they are aware which appears to be blighted. Such reports shall be submitted within 30 days of the Town Manager's request.
The Town Manager shall use this information and any other available information to complete a list of blighted properties within 60 days. In the first year following enactment of this chapter, the Town Manager may levy fines against blighted properties as described in § 88-5A hereof prior to legislative approval of the blighted property list. In subsequent years, this process will be initiated on or before January 15 of that year, and fines may only be levied, or other actions deemed appropriate taken, pursuant to legislative approval of a blighted property list, or additions or deletions thereto.
Within 60 days after receipt, the Town Manager shall present to the Town Council said list. The Town Council shall approve, disapprove or modify said list. In the event that the Town Council chooses not to approve, disapprove or modify the list within 75 days from the date it receives said list, then said list will be deemed to have been approved.
The Town Manager may request the addition of any premises to or deletion from the blighted property list for consideration by the Town Council.
Any individual or any civic organization or municipal agency affected by the action or inaction of an owner of property subject to the provisions of this chapter may file, in writing, a complaint of violation of this chapter with the Town Manager which sets forth the address of the property and facts concerning the condition of such property. If the Town Manager has reason to believe that an owner has violated the provisions of this chapter, he shall request the addition of the subject property to the blighted properties list for consideration by the Town Council.
Once said list of blighted properties, or any additions thereto, has been approved by the Town Council, the Town Manager, or his designee, shall undertake regular inspections for the purpose of documenting continuous blight and shall issue a citation and impose a penalty of not more than $100 for each day that the building or structure or unit, or part thereof, or parcel of land is in violation of this chapter. Each day that the building or structure or unit, or part thereof, or a parcel of land is in violation of this chapter shall constitute a separate offense.
At any time within 12 months from the expiration of the final period for the uncontested payment of fines, penalties, costs or fees for any citation issued for an alleged violation of this chapter, the Town Manager shall send notice, via certified mail, to the person cited. Such notice shall inform the person cited of the allegations against him and the amount of the fines, penalties, costs or fees due; that he may contest his liability before a Building Citation Hearing Officer by delivering in person or by mail written notice within 10 days of the date thereof; that if he does not demand such a hearing, assessment and judgment shall be entered against him and any unpaid fine shall constitute a lien upon the subject real estate against which the fine was imposed as set forth in Subsection F of this section; and that such judgment shall attach without further notice.
If the person who is sent notice pursuant to Subsection B of this section wishes to admit liability for any alleged violation, he may, without requesting a hearing, pay the full amount of the fines, penalties, costs or fees admitted to in person or by mail to an official designated by the Town Manager. Such payment shall be inadmissible in any proceeding, civil or criminal, to establish the conduct of such person or other person making the payment. Any person who does not deliver or mail written demand for a hearing within 10 days of the date of the first notice provided for in Subsection B of this section shall be deemed to have admitted liability, and the designated municipal official shall certify such person's failure to respond to the Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer shall thereupon enter and assess the fines provided for within this chapter and shall follow the procedures set forth in Subsection F of this section.
Any person who requests a hearing shall be given written notice, via certified mail, of the date, time and place for the hearing. Such hearing shall be held not less than 15 days nor more than 30 days from the date of the mailing of notice of hearing, provided that the Hearing Officer shall grant upon good cause shown any reasonable request by any interested party for postponement or continuance. An original or certified copy of the initial notice of violation issued by the Town Manager, or his designee, shall be filed and retained by the municipality, and shall be deemed to be a business record within the scope of Section 52-180 of the Connecticut General Statutes and evidence of the facts contained therein. The presence of the Town Manager, or his designee, shall be required at the hearing if such person so requests. A person wishing to contest his liability shall appear at the hearing and may present evidence in his behalf. A designated municipal official, other than the Hearing Officer, may present evidence on behalf of the municipality. If such person fails to appear, the Hearing Officer may enter an assessment by default against him upon a finding of proper notice and liability under this chapter. The Hearing Officer may accept from such person copies of police reports, investigatory and citation reports and other official documents by mail and may determine thereby that the appearance of such person is unnecessary. The Hearing Officer shall conduct the hearing in the order and form and with such methods of proof as he deems fair and appropriate. The rules regarding the admissibility of evidence shall not be strictly applied, but all testimony shall be given under oath or affirmation.
The Hearing Officer shall announce his decision at the end of the hearing. If he determines that the person is not liable, he shall dismiss the matter and enter his determination, in writing, accordingly. If the person demonstrates that he intends to rehabilitate or demolish the blighted structure, by the submission of documentation such as construction plans, permits and the availability of funds to pay for such work, satisfactory to the Hearing Officer, then the Hearing Officer shall stay the matter and enter his determination, in writing, accordingly. Said stay shall be expressly conditioned upon the rehabilitation or demolition of the blighted structure within three months. If the conditions of the stay have not been met within three months, the Hearing Officer shall enter and assess the fines, penalties, costs or fees against such person as provided by this chapter retroactive to the date of the hearing. If the Hearing Officer determines that the person is liable for the violation, he shall forthwith enter and assess the fines, penalties, costs or fees against such person as provided by this chapter.
If such assessment is not paid on the date of its entry, any unpaid fine shall constitute a lien upon the real estate against which the fine was imposed from the original date of such fine. Each such lien may be continued, recorded and released in the manner provided by the Connecticut General Statutes for continuing, recording and releasing property tax liens. Each such lien shall take precedence over all other liens filed after the effective date of this chapter and encumbrances, except taxes, and may be enforced in the same manner as property tax liens.
The Assessor may reduce the assessment of any building that has been rehabilitated in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. The assessment shall be adjusted after the building is rehabilitated. The adjusted assessment shall reflect the value of the structure prior to rehabilitation. The adjusted assessment shall be applicable for a period not to exceed three years.