[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Wallingford as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 5-14-2013 by Ord. No. 588]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Art. I, Blighted Premises, adopted 7-15-2008 by Ord. No. 555.
It is hereby found and declared that blighted properties adversely affect the economic well-being of the community, contribute to the decline of neighborhoods, and jeopardize the health, safety, welfare and/or quality of life of persons within the Town of Wallingford. It is further found that properties in a blighted condition can be rehabilitated, and rehabilitation would eliminate, remedy and prevent the adverse effects previously described. This article is enacted pursuant to § 7-148 et seq., § 7-148(c)(7)(H)(xv), § 7-148aa and § 7-152c of the State of Connecticut General Statutes.
This article provides minimum standards governing the condition and maintenance of real property and establishes reasonable safeguards for the health, safety and welfare of the occupants, neighborhood and community. This article is intended to maintain and preserve the quality of life in neighborhoods and control/remediate blighted properties.
For the purposes of this article, the following words, terms and phrases shall have the following meanings:
- Generally, the intentional relinquishment of a property and/or control thereof. Abandonment is based upon the given facts of a particular case and may include an act or omission of an act. A property unoccupied and left unprotected, exposed and/or deteriorating may be found to be abandoned.
- Deteriorating, in a state of ill repair, filth or decay. As further defined in this article.
- 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" or "structure" shall be construed as if followed by the words "or part(s) thereof." Accessory buildings or structures, canopies, awnings, permanent signs, marquees, and each and every type of portable equipment shall be considered "building" or "structures" within the meaning of this definition.
- Any rotting vegetable and animal wastes, excluding sewage and body waste, but shall not include properly maintained compost.
- Any discarded substance or waste material that is thrown or scattered about, such as but not limited to any tobacco or cigarette product, paper, plastic, bottle or part thereof or similar.
- A. Any dwelling or dwelling unit, including one-family, two-family and multiple-family dwellings, whether vacant or occupied;
- B. Any lot, plot or parcel of land, whether vacant or occupied;
- C. Any building of nondwelling use, including commercial properties, whether vacant or occupied;
- D. Any mixed-use, commercial and residential building, whether vacant or occupied;
- E. Any accessory structure accessory to any building, whether vacant or occupied; and
- F. Any apartments, boardinghouses, group homes, lodging homes, rooming houses, tenement houses or dormitories, or other similar buildings, whether vacant or occupied.
- Nonrotting combustible and noncombustible waste, such as but not limited to paper, cardboard, wood, metal, glass, bedding, furniture, refrigerators, demolition material or similar items.
- STATE OF DISREPAIR or BECOMING DILAPIDATED
- In a physically deteriorating condition which, if left unabated, would cause an unsafe or unsanitary condition or a nuisance to the general public which may be evidenced by one or more of the conditions set forth in § 156-3 of this article.
- An open parcel of land on the same lot with a principal building, extending along a property line or street line and inward to the principal building.
No owner or occupant of any real property shall permit, cause, keep, maintain, or create a blighted premises. Any building, accessory structure or parcel of land, including single-family, multifamily residential or commercial, whether occupied or vacant, in which at least one of the following conditions exists is a blighted premises:
The condition of the premises poses a serious or immediate danger to the health, safety or general welfare of the community;
One or more of the following conditions exist as determined by the Building Department:
Multiple missing, broken windows or doors or abandoned boarded structures;
Collapsing, missing or damaged walls, floors or roofs; dilapidated chimney;
Seriously damaged or missing siding or the building is otherwise dilapidated;
Structurally faulty foundation or walls which contain substantial open cracks or breaks;
Accessory structures not structurally sound or in good state of repair;
Neglectful exterior property maintenance or abandonment resulting in deterioration of the property and/or having an adverse effect on the neighborhood, including but not limited to graffiti; accumulation of rubbish, litter, severely unkempt/out of control brush/weeds on any land abutting a paved public street (agricultural land exempted);
Incomplete residential exterior construction, renovation or repairs, which remain incomplete for a year following the issuance of a building permit;
Any parking lots where a major portion of which is left in a state of substantial disrepair (numerous potholes, broken asphalt, etc.);
Outside storage/accumulation of junk, materials, boxes, paper, plastics, metals and/or refuse of any kind. Accumulation/excessive collection of a large number of possessions, including items having little value or of little usefulness. Clutter of items that impede or prevent movement around the property and/or prevent the outside of the property from being used for its intended purpose.
One or more of the following conditions exist, as determined by the Health Department:
Unsanitary conditions, including rodent harborage or infestation caused by improper storage or accumulation of garbage, trash, and/or litter or any other cause;
Stagnant water in artificial pools or ponds or discarded tires or other objects capable of maintaining stagnant water;
Infestation by rodents or other pests.
The following condition exists as determined by the Police Department:
Any building, structure or parcel of land attracting criminal activity as documented by police authority. The Police Department must make a determination that the condition of the property contributes to the criminal activity occurring on said property.
Enforcement of this article shall be the responsibility of the Building Department, Health Department, Police Department and Fire Prevention Bureau as provided in the preceding § 156-3, acting separately or jointly. Nothing contained herein shall prohibit/limit the enforcement powers of any official as provided by state law and/or other local laws.
The Mayor may designate additional enforcement officers as deemed appropriate.
Upon determination of violations of this article, the designated Code Enforcement Officer shall issue a written notice of violation to the owner and occupants of the property. Notice shall be delivered by certified mail, return receipt requested, and/or personal service by a state marshal or as otherwise permitted by law.
Said notice shall state the violation(s) and provide for a reasonable opportunity for the owner/occupant to remediate the blighted conditions prior to any further enforcement/penalty.
Upon request and for good cause shown, said enforcement official may grant additional time for remediation.
As provided in Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148, a new owner or new occupant shall, upon request, be granted a thirty-day extension of the notice and opportunity to remediate. "New owner" is any person or entity who has taken title to a property within 30 days of the notice and "new occupant" is any person who has taken occupancy of a property within 30 days of the notice.
A notice of violation shall not be closed as satisfactorily completed until 90 days after the remediation is finished. Any repeated violation occurring within the 90 days shall be a violation of the original notice of violation.
[Added 9-10-2015 by Ord. No. 607]
If the owner and/or occupant fails to correct the violation(s) after the period stated in the notice of violation (or any extension period granted by the enforcement official), the enforcement officer may issue a citation.
Violations of the provisions of this article shall subject the owner and/or occupant to a civil penalty of $100 for each day a violation continues to exist beyond the required remediation period as stated in the written notice of violation.
Any person may contest the citation for violation(s) of this article as per Connecticut General Statutes § 7-152c, as amended, and as provided herein.
The Mayor shall appoint one or more Citation Hearing Officers other than an employee from any of the departments with responsibility as a Code Enforcement Official, who shall serve until a successor is appointed.
The person aggrieved may contest his liability by delivering in person or by mail a completed citation appeals form to the Town Clerk's office, Town Hall, Room 108, 45 South Main Street, Wallingford, CT. Citation appeals must be received within 10 calendars days of the date of the issuance of the citation.
The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the procedure set forth in Connecticut General Statutes § 7-152c, as amended:
Any person 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 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 issuing official or policeman shall be filed and retained by the municipality, and shall be deemed to be a business record within the scope of § 52-180 and evidence of the facts contained therein. The presence of the issuing official or policeman 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 the applicable statutes or ordinances. 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 (which may be continued for reasonable cause or in order to inspect the property). If he determines that the person is not liable, he shall dismiss the matter and enter his determination in writing accordingly. If he 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 the applicable ordinances of the municipality.
The failure to pay the citation may result in the entry of a judgment by the Superior Court in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes § 7-152c(f), as amended.
Nothing herein shall prevent any Town official from pursuing any other remedies, including injunctive relief or a referral to the State's Attorney's office for enforcement.
Any unpaid civil penalty imposed shall constitute a lien upon the real estate in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148aa. Each such lien shall be continued, recorded and released as provided for in Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148aa.
Any person who, after written notice and a reasonable opportunity to remediate blighted conditions, willfully violates this article with respect to housing blight, adopted pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 7-148(c)(7)(H)(xv), as amended, shall be fined by the State of Connecticut not more than $250 for each day for which it can be shown, based on actual daily inspections, that the blighted conditions continued to exist after written notice to the owner or occupant and the expiration of a reasonable opportunity to remediate.
The provisions of this article shall be supplemental to existing municipal ordinances dealing with building/housing and/or public health or safety and shall not limit the provisions of other local, state, or federal codes, regulations or statutes. Further, if any portion of this article is deemed unenforceable, the remaining provisions shall be in full force and effect.