[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Guilford 2-2-2009; amended in its entirety 6-2-2014. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter is enacted pursuant to the Municipal Powers Act (Section 7-148 et seq.) of the State of Connecticut General Statutes. It is hereby found and declared that there may exist within the Town of Guilford a number of real properties, which are vacant and/or in a blighted condition, whose continued existence may contribute to the decline of neighborhoods. It is further found that the existence of such properties adversely affects the economic well-being of the Town and is inimical to the health, safety, and welfare of its residents. It is further found that many of the properties can be rehabilitated, reconstructed, or reused so as to provide decent, safe and sanitary housing and ancillary commercial facilities, and that such rehabilitation, reconstruction, or reuse would eliminate, remedy and prevent the adverse conditions described above. This Chapter is sensitive to the private property rights of the citizens of Guilford and to extenuating circumstances due to age, disability, and citizens' economic situations.
No owner of real property located in the Town of Guilford shall allow, create, maintain, or cause to be created or maintained, housing blight. This Chapter shall apply to the maintenance of all housing properties now in existence or hereafter constructed, maintained, or modified but shall exclude: agricultural lands as defined in Section 22-3(b) of the Connecticut General Statutes, land preserved in its natural state through conservation easements, or areas designated as inland wetlands and watercourses.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following words, terms and phrases shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
- Any property which is deserted.
- BLIGHT ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- The Director of Health, the Zoning Enforcement Officer or any police officer of the Town of Guilford.
- CAPABLE INDIVIDUAL
- A person that can be reasonably expected to perform maintenance and yard work around a property or premises. This shall include children above 16 years of age, without a physical or mental disability as defined herein.
- Partial ruin, decay or disrepair of housing property such that it would not qualify for a certificate of use and occupancy, or which is deemed unsafe or which is designated as unfit for habitation as defined in the State Basic Building Code.
- DISABLED INDIVIDUAL
- In the case of an owner-occupied residence, an individual who has a disability meeting the definitions for the mental or physical disability as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and does not have a household member capable of providing the necessary maintenance.
- ELDERLY INDIVIDUAL
- An individual over the age of 65, who does not have a household member capable of providing the necessary maintenance
- HOUSING BLIGHT
- The condition of any structure or parcel of land upon which housing is located in which at least one of the following conditions exist:
- A. It is in a condition which poses a serious threat to the safety, health, and general welfare of the community as determined by the Director of Health, Zoning Enforcement Officer, Fire Marshall or Building Inspector.
- B. It is attracting illegal activity as documented by the Police Department.
- C. It is not being maintained as evidenced by the existence of the following conditions: it is open to the elements, or has collapsing or missing walls, roofs, windows, doors or is unable to provide shelter, or serve the purpose for which it was constructed due to damage, dilapidation, decay, or severe animal infestation; the property in the public view is chronically neglected or abandoned.
- D. It has material which is incapable of performing the function for which it is designed, including, but not limited to, abandoned, discarded, or unused objects; equipment such as automobiles, boats, and recreation vehicles which are unregistered and missing parts, not complete in appearance and in an obvious state of disrepair; parts of automobiles, furniture, appliances, cans, boxes, scrap metal, tires, batteries, containers and garbage that are in the public view. Notwithstanding the foregoing, housing blight shall not include such temporary conditions, not to exceed six months in duration, as may be reasonably related to the repair or restoration of a single boat owned by the property owner or his tenant.
- LOW INCOME INDIVIDUAL
- In the case of an owner-occupied residence, an individual, or where more than one person resides in the premises, a family unit, that has an income below the highest level of "qualifying income" established by C.G.S. § 12-170d(a)(3).
- An area of the Town comprising premises or parcels of land any part of which is contiguous with any other parcel within the Town.
- NEW OCCUPANT
- Any person who has taken occupancy of a property within 30 days of a notice of violation.
- NEW OWNER
- Any person or entity who has taken title to a property within 30 days of a notice of violation.
- Any buildings, dwellings, parcels of land or structures contained within the scope of this chapter.
- PUBLIC VIEW
- Visible from any public right-of-way or neighborhood.
Special consideration may be given to individuals that are disabled, elderly, or low income in the Town's effort to correct housing blight. If an individual cannot maintain a reasonable level of upkeep of his owner-occupied residence because he/she is a disabled individual, elderly individual or low income individual, and no capable individual resides in the residence, the Town may give the person a reasonable amount of time to correct the problem, the duration of which shall be in the discretion of the Blight Enforcement Officer. If needed, assistance in finding solutions will be offered by the Town.
Upon determination of a violation of this chapter, the Blight Enforcement Officer shall issue a written notice of violation to the owner and occupant of the property. Notice shall be delivered by certified mail, return receipt requested, at the owner's last known address and/or personal service by a state marshal or as otherwise permitted by law.
The notice shall state:
The address of the affected property.
The description of the violation.
A reasonable time period for the owner and occupant to remediate the violation pursuant to § 142-5C of this chapter.
The civil penalty which will be levied by issuance of a citation if the violation is not corrected within the remediation period pursuant to § 142-6 of this chapter.
The additional fine which may be imposed by the state for a willful violation pursuant to § 142-7 of this chapter.
The availability to the owner/occupant of a hearing procedure before the Blight Appeals Committee pursuant to C.G.S. § 7-152c to contest any citation issued.
As provided in C.G.S. § 7-148(c)(7)(H)(xv), an owner and occupant shall have a reasonable opportunity to remediate a blighted condition prior to any enforcement action being taken. Further, as provided in Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148o(b), a new owner or new occupant shall, upon request, be granted a thirty-day extension of the notice and opportunity to remediate.
If the owner or occupant fails to correct the violation(s) within the remediation period granted in the notice of violation, the Blight Enforcement Officer may issue a citation. The citation shall state:
If the owner or occupant fails to pay such civil penalty to the Town within the ten-day period from the date of the citation, then the Blight Enforcement Officer shall issue an additional notice to the owner/occupant in the manner prescribed in § 142-5A. Such second notice shall be sent within 12 months after the aforesaid ten- day period to pay the civil penalty has expired. The additional notice shall state:
The description of the violation.
The amount of the daily civil penalties levied and that such civil penalties may continue to be levied from the date of the citation.
That the owner/occupant may contest his/her liability before the Blight Appeals Committee by delivering in person or by mail within 10 days of the date of this notice a written demand for a hearing.
That if the owner/occupant does not demand a hearing, an assessment and judgment shall be entered against him/her and that such judgment may issue without further notice.
The civil penalty for violation of this chapter shall be equal to the greater of $100 or the maximum amount allowed by C.G.S.§ 7-148(c)(7)(H)(xv), as the same may be amended from time to time, for each day a violation exists and continues beyond the date required for remediation set forth in the citation.
In addition to the foregoing, any person who, after receiving a notice of violation pursuant to § 142-5 of this chapter, and after reasonable opportunity to remediate the blighted condition, willfully violates the provisions of this chapter with respect to the blighted condition, such person shall be fined by the State of Connecticut not more than $250, or the maximum allowed by C.G.S.§ 7-148o, as the same may be amended from time to time, for each day for which it can be shown, based on actual inspection of the property on each such day that the violation continues to exist after written notice to the owner and occupant and the expiration of a reasonable opportunity to remediate.
In addition to the citation process described herein, the Director of Health is authorized to initiate legal proceedings in the Superior Court for the immediate correction of the violation(s), collection of any penalties, and the recovery of all costs including cost of remedial action(s) authorized by the court and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the Town of Guilford to enforce this chapter.
Any unpaid civil penalty imposed shall constitute a lien upon the real estate in accordance with C.G.S. § 7-148aa. Each such lien shall be continued, recorded and released as provided in C.G.S.§ 7-148aa.
The Town hereby specifically adopts the provisions of C.G.S. § 7-152c for the establishment of a citation hearing process for alleged violations of this chapter.
There shall be a Blight Appeals Committee consisting of three residents of the Town of Guilford, appointed by the First Selectman and approved by the Board of Selectmen, who shall act by majority vote as citation hearing officers in all hearings for alleged violations of this chapter.
The owner/occupant may contest his/her liability before the Blight Appeals Committee by delivering in person or by mail within 10 days of the receipt of the additional notice set forth in § 142-6B, a written demand for a hearing.
If the owner/occupant wishes to admit liability for any alleged violation, he/she may, without requesting a hearing, pay the full amount of the fines, penalties, costs or fees admitted to in person or by mail to the Town Clerk. 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 owner/occupant who does not deliver or mail written demand for a hearing within the aforementioned ten-day period shall be deemed to have admitted liability, and the Blight Enforcement Officer shall certify such person's failure to respond to the Blight Appeals Committee. The Blight Appeals Committee shall thereupon enter and assess the fines, penalties, costs or fees provided for by the applicable ordinances and shall follow the procedures set forth in C.G.S.§ 7-152c(f).
Any owner/occupant who requests a hearing shall be given written notice 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, provided the Blight Appeals Committee shall grant upon good cause shown any reasonable request by any interested party for postponement or continuance. The procedures and conduct of such hearing, the assessment of fines, penalties, costs or fees and the entry of judgment in Superior Court upon such assessment shall be as provided in C.G.S.§ 7-152c.
Nothing in this chapter shall limit the power and authority of the Town Building Inspector, the Zoning Enforcement Officer, the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Fire Marshall or the Director of Health to enforce their respective regulations.
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, if such provision of this chapter establishes a higher standard for the promotion and protection of the health and safety and property values of the people such provision shall be enforceable pursuant to the procedures established herein.
This chapter shall not be intended to affect violations of any other ordinances, codes or regulations whether existing prior to or subsequent to the effective date of this chapter. Such violations shall be governed by and shall continue to be subject to enforcement under the provisions of such ordinances, codes or regulations in effect at the time the violation occurred, and/or by enforcement of this ordinance, as may be appropriate.