[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of New Canaan 10-11-2006, effective 10-27-2006; amended in its entirety 3-27-2019. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter is enacted pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148(c)(7)(H)(xv) regarding housing blight.
This chapter is intended to protect, preserve and promote public health, safety and welfare; to maintain and preserve the beauty of neighborhoods; and to allow for the prevention, control and abatement of blighted premises.
For the purposes of this chapter, the following words, terms and phrases shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. Where terms are not specifically defined in this chapter, they shall have their ordinarily accepted meaning or such meaning as the context shall imply.
- BLIGHT PREVENTION OFFICER
- A Town employee designated by the First Selectman to carry out the duties specified in this chapter.
- A. Any residential building, structure, or parcel of land in which one or more of the following conditions have existed for at least 30 days and are visible from the first or second floor of an adjacent homeowner's dwelling:
- (1) Missing, broken or boarded-up windows or doors.
- (2) Collapsing or dilapidated roof.
- (3) Collapsing or dilapidated structure.
- (4) Crumbling brick, concrete, or cinderblock walls.
- (5) Seriously damaged, missing or loose siding, gutters, leaders, shingles or roofing.
- (6) Significant fire or water damage.
- (7) Persistent and excessive amounts of garbage, trash or debris.
- (8) Inoperable machinery.
- (9) A structure substantially infested with rodents or other pests.
- (10) Overgrown brush, grass or weeds of at least one foot in height covering a significant portion of the property's front yard, other than (i) ornamental grass which is part of a landscaped area, and (ii) areas identified as inland wetlands.
- (11) Trees, bushes or other vegetation that overhang and significantly hinder the use of a street, sidewalk, or driveway.
- (12) One or more fallen trees, except those that have fallen (i) within the past six months, or (ii) in an area in which trees and brush exist in a natural, unlandscaped state.
- (13) Extensive graffiti.
- B. Notwithstanding the above, the following shall not be considered to constitute a blight condition: (i) debris which is part of a construction project subject to a valid building permit; (ii) a condition which is subject to a pending insurance claim; (iii) material in a compost pile; or (iv) firewood in a neatly stacked pile.
- CITATION HEARING OFFICER
- An individual appointed by the First Selectman to conduct citation hearings under this chapter.
- DISABLED INDIVIDUAL
- A person who has a disability as that term is defined under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended.
- ELDERLY INDIVIDUAL
- A person who is 65 years of age or older.
- LOW-INCOME INDIVIDUAL
- A person whose household income is less than 200% of the federal poverty level used for purposes of determining Medicaid eligibility.
- NAMED PARTY
- With respect to residential property which may be a blighted premises, the owner or owners and such tenants, agents, or other persons in control of the premises that the Blight Prevention Officer determines are appropriate to be included as a named party.
No owner, tenant, agent, or other person in control of residential real estate shall maintain, cause to be maintained, or allow any blighted premises.
The Blight Prevention Officer shall investigate conditions that come to his attention that could lead a property to be considered a blighted premises. In cases in which the Blight Prevention Officer determines that a probable violation of § 7A-3 of this chapter may exist, he or she shall contact the owner(s) and such tenants, agents or other persons in control as he or she deems appropriate. The Blight Prevention Officer shall attempt to achieve a voluntary abatement of the conditions in question.
The Blight Prevention Officer and other Town officials may enter property during reasonable hours for the purpose of remediating blighted conditions. This chapter does not authorize entry into a dwelling house or structure on such property.
Referral. If the Blight Prevention Officer determines that voluntary abatement is unlikely to occur in a reasonable time, he or she shall refer the matter to the Blight Review Board for a hearing.
Appointment and composition. The Blight Review Board shall consist of five electors of the Town who are appointed by the Board of Selectmen and shall serve without compensation. No more than three members shall be registered in the same political party. The Board shall include at least one member from each of the following:
Terms of service. Members of the Blight Review Board shall serve a term of three years. A member's term may be renewed at the discretion of the Board of Selectmen.
In the case of a matter referred to the Blight Review Board, the Blight Prevention Officer shall prepare a written notice of hearing, which shall include the following:
The location of the premises where the violation is alleged to occur.
A description of the probable violation and the conditions evidencing such violation.
A statement that a hearing of the Blight Review Board will be held to determine (i) whether a violation in fact exists, (ii) the actions to be taken to abate such violation, and (iii) the date by which such violation shall be fully abated.
All named parties who are served the notice are required to appear at the hearing.
The location, time, and date, which shall not later than 30 days following delivery of the notice of the hearing.
The Blight Review Board shall hold a hearing under § 7A-6 of this chapter within 30 calendar days of the date notice is served under § 7A-8 of this chapter. All interested persons shall be given the opportunity to present evidence on the question of whether a violation of this chapter has occurred. If a named party fails to appear, the Blight Review Board may nevertheless determine whether a violation has occurred, provided the Board has determined that notice was properly served in accordance with § 7A-8 of this chapter.
After a hearing under § 7A-9 of this chapter, the Blight Review Board shall issue a written determination whether a violation exists. If the Board determines that a violation exists, it shall include in its written determination the actions to be taken to abate the violation and the date by which such violation shall be fully abated.
In determining the date by which a violation shall be abated, the Blight Review Board may grant additional time for good cause, which shall include but not be limited to:
In determining whether good cause exists, the Blight Review Board shall consider (a) whether the severity of the violation is such that additional time is not warranted, and (b) whether other occupants of the premises are able to assist in correcting the violation in a timely fashion.
Upon the determination of the Blight Review Board that a violation of this chapter exists, the Blight Prevention Officer shall send a written notice of violation to each named party. The notice shall state:
The date by which the violation shall be remedied;
That the failure of a named party to remedy the violation within the prescribed time shall result in the issuance of a citation in accordance with § 7A-15 of this chapter;
The amount of the daily civil penalties and other fines imposed under this chapter; and
That if the named party fails to remedy the violation, the Town may cause remediation at the expense of the named party.
Notwithstanding the provisions of § 7A-10 of this chapter, the Blight Enforcement Officer may, at his or her discretion, grant to any named party one thirty-day extension of the time to remediate the violation.
Violations of the provisions of this chapter shall be punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed $100 for each day a violation exists and continues beyond the date required for remediation set forth in the notice of violation under § 7A-11 of this chapter. Violators will also be responsible for all costs and expenses associated with enforcement and the collection of any civil penalties, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, attorney fees, court costs, mailing costs and filing fees.
The Blight Enforcement Officer shall issue to all named parties a citation when a violation of this chapter continues beyond the date by which the Blight Review Board required that the violation be abated. The citation shall state:
A description of the violation.
The amount of the daily penalties that shall be levied from the date of the citation, plus such other fines, penalties, costs and/or fees due.
That the uncontested payment of such penalties and other amounts shall be made within 10 business days of the date of the citation.
That the named party may contest his liability before a Citation Hearing Officer by delivering, in person or by mail, within 10 business days of the date of the citation, a written demand for a hearing.
That if the named party does not demand a hearing, an assessment and judgment shall be entered against the named party and that such judgment may issue without further notice.
That the Town shall file a lien against the real estate in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148aa for the amount of any unpaid civil penalties or other fines, costs or fees imposed by the Town in accordance with this chapter.
A named party who chooses to appeal a citation and requests a hearing shall be given written notice of the date, time and place of the hearing. Such hearing shall be held not less than 15 calendar days and not more than 30 calendar days from the date the notice is sent, provided that the Citation Hearing Officer shall grant, upon good cause shown, any reasonable request by an interested party for postponement or continuance. An orginal or certified copy of the citation shall be filed with and retained by the Town and shall be deemed to be a business record within the scope of C.G.S. § 52-180 and evidence of the facts contained therein. Upon request of the person appealing the citation, the Blight Prevention Officer shall be required at the hearing. A named party wishing to contest liability shall appear at the hearing and may present evidence on his or her behalf. If any named party who received the citation fails to appear, the Citation Hearing Officer may enter an assessment by default against him or her upon a finding of proper notice. The Citation Hearing Officer may accept copies of any relevant investigatory and citation reports and any other official documents by mail and may determine thereby that the appearance of a named party is unnecessary.
The Citation Hearing Officer shall conduct the hearing in the order and form, and with such methods of proof, as he or she deems fair and appropriate. Rules regarding the admissibility of evidence shall not be strictly applied, but all testimony shall be given under oath or affirmation. The Citation Hearing Officer shall announce his or her decision at the end of the hearing. If the Citation Hearing Officer determines that the named party is not liable, the Citation Hearing Officer shall dismiss the matter and enter that determination in writing accordingly. If the Citation Hearing Officer determines that the named party is liable for the violation, he or she shall enter and assess the civil penalties, fines, costs and fees as provided by this chapter.
If the Citation Hearing Officer's assessment is not paid on the date of entry, the Citation Hearing Officer shall send by first-class mail a notice of assessment to the named party found liable and shall file, not less than 30 calendar days nor more than 12 months after such mailing, a certified copy of the notice of assessment with the clerk of the applicable superior court facility, together with the applicable filing fee. Such certified copy shall constitute a record of assessment. Within such twelve-month period, assessment against the same named party may be accrued and filed as one record of assessment. The Citation Hearing Officer's assessment shall have the effect of a civil money judgment, and a levy of execution of such judgment may issue without further notice to the named party.
A named party against whom an assessment has been entered pursuant to this chapter is entitled to judicial review by way of appeal in accordance with C.G.S. § 7-152c(g).
Any unpaid civil penalty or other fine imposed under this chapter, and any and all costs and expenses incurred by the Town for the enforcement of this chapter, shall constitute a lien upon the real estate against which the civil penalty or other fine was imposed from the date of such civil penalty or fine.
If the Citation Hearing Officer determines that a named party is liable for the violation, the Town may cause or take such action as is necessary to correct the violation. All costs and expenses of such corrective action shall be a lien upon the real estate.
The provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to prevent the enforcement of other statutes, codes, ordinances or regulations which prescribe standards other than are provided in this ordinance.
In any case where a provision of this chapter is found to be in conflict with a provision of any zoning, building, fire, safety or health ordinance, regulation or other code of the Town or state, the provision which establishes the higher standard for the promotion and protection of the health and safety, and property values of the people shall prevail.
This chapter shall not affect violations of any other ordinance, code or regulation existing prior to the most recent amendment of this chapter, and any such violations may be governed and continue to be punishable under the provisions of those ordinances, codes, or regulations in effect at the time the violation was committed.