[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town of Griswold 6-17-2010 by referendum; amended in its entirety 3-26-2019. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
It being found by the Town Meeting that the existence of blighted properties, buildings and structures adversely affects the economic well-being of the Town of Griswold and the Borough of Jewett City and is inimical to the health, safety, and general welfare of its residents, the purpose of this chapter, adopted pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148(c)(7)(H)(xv), therefore to define, prohibit and provide for the abatement of blight on properties so as to preserve and protect property values in the Town of Griswold and the Borough of Jewett City and the well-being of its residents and property owners.
This chapter applies to all parcels of land within the Town of Griswold and the Borough of Jewett City upon which blight exists with the exception of:
The following definitions apply in the interpretation and enforcement of this chapter:
- BLIGHTED PROPERTY
- To be a property, structure, building at or on which a blighted condition exists.
- A. It has been determined by the Blight Enforcement Officer that a condition exists on property that poses a serious or immediate threat to the health, safety or general welfare of the community.
- B. A property is in a state of neglect or a house, building, structure, or any part thereof, on the property is dilapidated and/or one or more of the following condition(s) exist(s) thereon:
- (1) Missing, broken or inadequately secured windows or doors;
- (2) Collapsing or missing exterior walls or roofs;
- (3) Structurally deficient conditions;
- (4) Unrepaired fire or water damage;
- (5) Substantially damaged or missing siding;
- (6) The persistent existence of garbage or trash on the property not completely contained within trash or refuse containers securely sealed by covers. Covering yard debris with tarp is not permitted;
- (7) The persistent existence of more than two vehicles on the property that are inoperable or in a state of disrepair or major disassembly or in the process of being stripped or dismantled including, cars, trucks, campers, motorcycles, boats, mowers, farming and construction equipment any one of which may also have missing doors or windows, holes, rust, or obvious physical decay, or used for storage purposes;
- (8) Accumulated debris not properly stored or used for its intended purposes including plastics, glass, papers, junk, furniture, appliances, scrap metal, tires, batteries, containers, garbage and building materials;
- (9) Tarpaulins used for weather protection (roof coverings) for periods exceeding 180 days in lieu of permanent approved roofing materials;
- (10) Overgrown vegetation and herbaceous materials including grass exceeding 12 inches in height, including overgrown trees and shrubbery impeding pedestrian traffic and/or vehicular traffic on sidewalks and streets;
- (11) The Fire Marshal has notified the Blight Enforcement Officer that a building or structure is a fire hazard and is a factor creating a substantial problem with public safety for the use and enjoyment of neighboring properties.
- (12) The Health Officer has determined that a building or structure is a Health Hazard due to insect and/or rodent infestation. The storage of debris on the property that serves as a haven for insect or rodent infestation is not permitted. The Blight Enforcement Officer shall independently inspect and verify if a blight condition exists.
- Anything that for a period of 30 days or longer remains in public view on premises and that is incapable of immediately performing the function for which it was designed. Debris includes, but is not limited to:
- DECAY or DECAYED
- A wasting or wearing away; a gradual decline in strength, soundness or quality; decomposed or rotten, except as to a contained compost pile.
- Any building, structure or parcel of land, or part thereof in a state of disrepair or ruin as a result of age or neglect, and/or which is deemed unsafe pursuant to the Connecticut State Building Code, or the Connecticut Public Health Code, as they may be amended from time to time, or any dwelling or dwelling unit which is designated as unfit for human habitation as defined by the Connecticut Public Health Code including but not limited to a building, structure, or parcel of land that evidences disrepair that presents a safety concern or evidences conditions that are likely to cause sickness, disease, or injury to the general welfare of any of the persons living therein or of the general public.
- MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT
- Any apparatus other than motor vehicles, including but not limited to electric and pneumatic equipment, that is designed to be operated by an engine or to be towed by any apparatus propelled by an engine.
- Any natural or legal entity having an ownership interest in a premises or buildings that are subject to this chapter. "Owner" or "occupant" includes a "registrant" as defined in Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148hh(1).
- Any parcel of land or structure or building including residential, commercial and industrial.
- PUBLIC VIEW
- Visible at ground level from any public right-of-way or adjacent premises.
- Any dwelling, shed or similar construction that is enclosed in whole or in part.
Each owner or occupant of a premises or structures subject to this chapter shall comply with its provisions and shall not cause or allow such premises or structures to become blighted or to remain in a blighted condition. These obligations exist jointly and severally on affected owners or occupants.
This chapter shall not be construed to prevent the enforcement of other statutes, codes, ordinances or regulations that prescribe standards other than are provided herein, and the Blight Enforcement Officer is expressly authorized to seek any and all remedies at law or equity to compel compliance with the requirements of this chapter.
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 the state, the provision that establishes the higher standard for the protection, preservation and promotion of public health, safety and welfare and the preservation and protection of property values shall prevail.
The Blight Enforcement Officer shall be a Town official and/or employee designated by the First Selectman. The Blight Enforcement Officer shall be responsible for enforcing, and is hereby granted the authority to enforce this chapter and to issue citations and/or take other actions as he or she deems necessary to compel compliance with this chapter.
Signed, written complaints on forms provided by the Town may be submitted to the Blight Enforcement Officer. The Blight Enforcement Officer may enforce the provisions of this chapter without having received a signed, written complaint.
If the Blight Enforcement Officer determines that there has been a violation of this chapter, the officer shall cause notice of the violation to be given to the owner or owners or occupants of the premises upon which the violation exists, as provided below. Such notice shall be sent to the owner's last known address as listed in the Tax Collector's office or, as applicable, to the registration address provided under Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148ii. Such notice shall:
Set forth the provision(s) of this chapter that have been violated and the facts establishing such violation(s);
Specify a final date for the correction of any violation;
Be served upon the owner by a State Marshal authorized to serve process in New London County.
State that the fines and enforcement provisions of this chapter will become effective on the final date for correction of any violation, including any extension(s) thereof.
The Blight Enforcement Officer is required to issue only one notice of violation, even though there are multiple violations and even though the same violation may exist for multiple days.
Prior to the expiration of the correction period specified in the notice of violation, the owner of the premises receiving a notice may apply, in writing, to the Blight Enforcement Officer for an extension of the correction period. The Blight Enforcement Officer may, in writing, grant one extension of the correction period of no more than 30 days if the officer determines that the owner is diligently working to remedy the blighted condition and that under the facts and circumstances an extension is reasonable. The Blight Enforcement Officer may provide one or more subsequent extensions only upon the approval of the First Selectman.
The First Selectman of the Town of Griswold shall appoint three citation hearing officers and a minimum of one alternate to conduct the hearing provided by § 124-10C of this chapter. Neither the Blight Enforcement Officer nor any Town of Griswold employee or Law Enforcement Officer shall be appointed as a citation hearing officer under this chapter. Three hearing officers shall sit on each appeal.
If on or after the original or any extended correction date the Blight Enforcement Officer determines that the cited blight condition(s) has/have not been fully abated, the Blight Enforcement Officer may issue a citation, which shall include the fines set forth in this chapter. The Blight Enforcement Officer need not issue more than one citation, even though there may be multiple violations that exist for multiple days.
Each violation of this chapter shall be subject to a fine of $50 per day, payable to the Town of Griswold. No fine shall commence until 30 days have elapsed, after the Hearing Officers have rendered a decision and notified the owner, agent, tenant or responsible party or in the case the owner cannot be located, the date of publication of notice in the newspaper. Each day that the violation of this chapter exists shall constitute a separate offense. The Hearing Officers shall follow the procedure adopted pursuant to the Connecticut General Statutes § 7-152c.
Any entity issued a citation may contest their liability before the Citation Hearing Officers by delivering in person or by certified mail return receipt requested written notice within 10 days of the date thereof; to the First Selectman of the Town of Griswold that he does contest said citation. Any entity that does not deliver or mail a written demand for a hearing within 10 days of the date of the first notice shall be deemed to have admitted liability.
Any entity who requests a hearing shall be given written notice by certified mail return receipt requested 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 mailing of the notice.
The Town of Griswold hereby adopts the hearing procedures set forth in Connecticut General Statutes § 7-152c, as amended, as its hearing procedure for citations issued under this chapter.
A copy of The Town of Griswold Blight Ordinance and the Borough of Jewett City shall be issued with each citation issued.
In addition to having a lien for abatement expenses, all unpaid fines or costs shall constitute a lien upon the real estate in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148aa, and each such lien shall be continued, recorded and released as provided therein.