[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Simsbury 10-11-2006. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter is enacted pursuant to the authority granted to the Town of Simsbury under Connecticut General Statutes Section 7-148(c)(7)(H)(xv). The Board of Selectmen finds that blighted or unsafe buildings and other structures may pose a threat to the health, safety and general welfare of their occupants and other members of the public, and may reduce the value and unreasonably interfere with the use and enjoyment of properties in the vicinity of such premises. The Board of Selectmen also finds that buildings and structures within the Town of Simsbury should not be allowed to become blighted or unsafe or to remain in such a condition.
No owner or other person having lawful possession or control of a building or other structure within the Town of Simsbury shall permit the building or structure to become blighted or unsafe, as defined in § 123-3 below, or to remain in a blighted or unsafe condition.
The following definitions shall apply in the interpretation and enforcement of this chapter:
- BLIGHTED PREMISES
- Any building or structure, or any part of a structure that is a separate unit, any parcel of land, any lot of land, or any building under construction for which a building permit has been issued for more than 24 months without receiving a certificate of occupancy and in which at least one of the following conditions exists:
- A. The Blight Prevention Officer determines that existing conditions pose a serious threat to the health and safety of persons in the Town.
- B. The premises 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, abandoned vehicles, watercraft or trailers of any kind 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 District 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.
- BLIGHT PREVENTION OFFICER
- Such individual as is designated by the First Selectman to act as the Blight Prevention Officer.
- 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" and "structure" shall be construed as if followed by the words "or part thereof." Accessory buildings or structures, canopy, awnings, marquees, and each and every type of portable equipment shall be considered "buildings" or "structures" within the meaning of this definition.
- BUILDING CITATION HEARING OFFICER
- Any individual(s) appointed by the First Selectman to conduct hearings authorized by the Simsbury Code of 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 Simsbury 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.
The Blight Prevention Officer is granted the authority necessary to enforce the provisions of this chapter. Such authority shall include, but not be limited to, entering premises known to be, or suspected of being, blighted or unsafe for the purpose of conducting inspections, citing violations, determining enforcement actions, assessment of fines, filing liens, designating a building or structure as blighted or unsafe, ordering the demolition of unsafe buildings or structures, and initiating legal actions.
Any unpaid fine imposed shall constitute a lien upon the real estate in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes Section 7-148aa. Each such lien shall be continued, recorded and released as provided for in Section 7-148aa.
The Blight Prevention Officer or his or her designee shall inspect any buildings or structures that appear to be blighted or unsafe based upon reports of the Director of Health or of any other persons who have reason to know of such conditions, or upon such other evidence as the Blight Prevention Officer deems relevant.
Any building or structure that has been determined by the Blight Prevention Officer to be blighted or unsafe shall be so designated by the Blight Prevention Officer.
Issuance of notice; contents.
Upon designating a building or structure as blighted or unsafe, the Blight Prevention Officer shall issue to the owner a written notice of blighted or unsafe premises and shall order the owner to correct the blighted or unsafe condition within 60 days of the date of the notice. The notice shall be sent to the owner by certified mail and shall include:
The facts upon which the designation is based;
The date by which the blighted or unsafe conditions must be corrected;
The fines, penalties, costs, fees and other enforcement actions that may be imposed by citation if the conditions are not corrected; and
The owner's right to contest the order before one or more citation hearing officers appointed by the Board of Selectmen (the "Hearing Officer").
In the event that the relevant building or structure or portion of a building or structure is known by the Blight Prevention Officer to be occupied by or under the legal control or possession of a person or persons other than the owner, the Blight Prevention Officer may direct a similar notice and order to any such person or persons whom the Blight Prevention Officer may reasonably believe to be fully or partially responsible for creating or maintaining the blighted or unsafe condition. Each person receiving such a notice and order shall be deemed to be jointly and severally liable for correcting the blighted or unsafe conditions.
Prior to the expiration of the sixty-day repair period specified in the notice of blighted or unsafe building or structure, the owner or person receiving a notice and order pursuant to Subsection A may apply to the Blight Prevention Officer for an extension of the repair period. The Blight Prevention Officer may grant one or more extensions of the repair period, none of which may be longer than 60 days, if he or she determines that the owner or other person is diligently working to remedy the blighted or unsafe condition and that under the facts and circumstances an extension is reasonable.
If the blighted or unsafe building or structure is not repaired to the satisfaction of the Blight Prevention Officer, or demolished, by the conclusion of the sixty-day repair period and any extensions thereof granted by the Blight Prevention Officer, the Blight Prevention Officer shall issue a citation and impose a fine of not more than $100 for each day that the building or structure remains unrepaired and stating that the owner or other person who received notice under Subsection A shall have 15 days from the receipt of the citation to make an uncontested payment of such fines. Each day that the property is in violation of this chapter shall constitute a separate offense. If the citation has been sent by regular mail, the day of receipt shall be deemed to be three business days after the mailing of the citation.
Failure to pay fine.
Upon the expiration of the fifteen-day period for the uncontested payment of fines under Subsection C, the Blight Prevention Officer shall send notice to the person cited under Subsection C. Such notice shall inform the person cited:
Of the allegations against him or her and the amount of fines, penalties, costs or fees due;
That he or she may contest his or her liability before the Hearing Officer by delivery, in person or mail, of written notice within 10 days of the date thereof;
That if he or she does not demand a hearing, an assessment and judgment shall be entered against him or her; and
That such judgment may issue without further notice.
All notices and hearings related to such citations shall be given and held, respectively, in accordance with the citation hearing procedures set forth in state law.
Any property owner or other person who receives a citation pursuant to this chapter has the right to request a hearing before the Hearing Officer by delivering, by hand delivery or mail, written notice of such request within 10 days of the date of the notice of blighted or unsafe premises. If the property owner or other responsible person requests a hearing, the Blight Prevention Officer shall set written notice, by certified mail, of the date, time and place for the hearing. Such hearing shall be held 15 to 30 days from the date of the mailing of the notice of such hearing.
The Hearing Officer shall conduct the hearing in the form and with the methods of proof as he or she deems fair and reasonable, in accordance with the hearing procedures for citations specified in state law. 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 issue a written decision following the conclusion of the hearing. If he or she determines that the subject property owner or other person having lawful possession or control is not liable, the Hearing Officer shall dismiss the matter and enter the determination, in writing, accordingly. If the Hearing Officer determines that the subject property or other person having lawful possession or control owner is liable, he or she shall enter the determination, in writing, accordingly, and assess the relevant fines, penalties, costs or fees that are provided for in this chapter.
Any fine which is unpaid 30 days after it is imposed shall constitute a lien upon the real estate agent against which the fine was imposed from the original date of imposition.
Pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148ff, in the event any owner, agent, tenant or person in control of real property shall fail to abate or correct any violation specified in any notice, after the issuance of an enforcement citation for such failure, which citation has become final through the failure of such owner, agent, tenant, or person in control of real property to appeal from the issuance of such citation, or by such appeal being sustained, the Town of Simsbury, acting through its Blight Prevention Officer, may cause or take such action as is necessary to correct such violation. Such Blight Prevention Officer, or his or her agent, may enter the property during reasonable hours for the purpose of remediating blighted conditions, provided such officer or agent shall not enter any dwelling, house or other structure. The cost to take such action shall be subject to a lien against the real property of the owner pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 49-73b and shall be a civil claim by the Town against such owner, agent, tenant, or person responsible for such property, and the Town Attorney may commence an action on behalf of the Town of Simsbury to recover all costs, expenses and fees, including attorney’s fees, incurred by the Town relating to the violation.
The Blight Prevention Officer shall give notice of the determination that the right of entry is authorized. Notice shall be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the property owner. Said notice shall give the property owner no less than 10 days from the date of the notice to remedy the blighted condition prior to the exercise of the right of entry.
As set forth in Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148ff, there is a board established consisting of the Blight Prevention Officer, the Finance Director and the Tax Assessor to determine when the exercise of the right of entry for a particular property is authorized under this section.