§ 60-1Declaration of policy.
§ 60-3Creation or maintenance of blighted premises prohibited.
§ 60-4Enforcement by Building Official.
§ 60-5Creation and certification of list of blighted premises.
§ 60-6Hearing procedure for citations.
§ 60-7Unpaid fines constitute a lien upon the real estate; payment and release
§ 60-8Acquisition of blighted premises.
This chapter is enacted pursuant to the Municipal Powers Act of the Connecticut General Statutes, including Subparagraph (H)(xv) of Subdivision (7) of Subsection (c) of Section 7-148 and Section 7-148aa.
It is hereby found and declared that there exists within the City of Derby a number of taxable and tax-exempt real properties containing blighted buildings and conditions and that the continued existence of blighted premises contributes to the decline of neighborhoods. It is further found that the existence of such blighted premises adversely affects the economic well being of the City and is inimical to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the City of Derby. It is further found that many of the blighted premises can be rehabilitated, reconstructed, demolished or reused to provide decent, safe, sanitary housing or commercial facilities, and that such rehabilitation, reconstruction, demolition or reuse would eliminate, remedy and prevent the adverse conditions described.
For the purposes of this chapter, the following words, terms and phrases shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
- BLIGHTED PREMISES
- Any building, structure or parcel of land, except exempt property as defined below, in which at least one of the following conditions exists:
It is dilapidated or becoming dilapidated as documented by the Building Official;
It is attracting illegal activity as documented by the Police Department;
It is a fire hazard as determined by the Fire Marshal or as documented by the Fire Department;
It is determined by the Building Official or by Health Department reports that the condition of the building, structure or parcel of land poses a serious or immediate danger to the safety, health or general welfare of the community.
It is not being maintained. The following factors may be considered in determining whether a structure or building is not being adequately maintained: missing or boarded windows or doors; collapsing or missing walls, roof or floors; seriously damaged or missing siding; a structurally faulty foundation; garbage, trash or abandoned/unregistered cars on the premises (unless the premises is a junkyard legally licensed by the State of Connecticut); overgrown grass or weeds of at least one foot in length; graffiti; and fire damage; or
It is a factor creating a substantial and unreasonable interference with the reasonable and lawful use and enjoyment of other space within the neighborhood as documented by neighborhood complaints, or cancellation of insurance on adjacent properties.
- BUILDING OFFICIAL
- Building Official, as defined in C.G.S. Section 29-260.
- CITATION HEARING OFFICER
- A person appointed by the Mayor to conduct the hearings authorized by this chapter.
- Any building or structure or part thereof that would not qualify for a certificate of use and occupancy or which is deemed an unsafe structure, and any dwelling or unit which is designated as unfit for human habitation as defined in the State Basic Building Code or the Code of the City of Derby.
- EXEMPT PROPERTY
- Any City-owned property; and any building or structure undergoing remodeling, restoration, repair or renovation, provided that the blighted condition will be corrected thereby and that the period thereof does not exceed six consecutive months.
- LEGAL OCCUPANCY
- Occupancy that is legal by virtue of compliance with the State Building Code, State Fire Safety Code, local zoning, local housing and all other pertinent codes, and which habitation shall be substantiated by a deed, bona tide lease agreement, rent receipt or utility statement.
- An area of the City comprised of premises or parcels of land any part of which is within a radius of 800 feet of any part of another parcel or lot within the City.
- A period of 60 days or longer during which a building or structure subject to this chapter is not legally occupied.
No person, firm or corporation shall cause or allow any blighted premises, as defined in the preceding section, to be created or continued on any real property located within the City of Derby.
The Building Official is charged with enforcing this chapter. The Building Official shall undertake regular inspections of blighted premises for the purpose of documenting continuing blight. The Building Official shall impose a fine of not less than $10 nor more than $100 for each day that a building, structure or any part thereof or a parcel of land violates this chapter. The fine shall be retroactive to the date that the Building Official serves the notice of citation to the owner. Each day that the building or structure or the parcel of land is in violation of this chapter shall constitute a separate offense. The Building Official shall impose fines for blight by serving a notice of citation on the owner in accordance with § 60-6B and shall notify the Aldermanic Subcommittee of the citation and amount of the fine imposed.
On or about the first of each month, all City department heads shall report any real property they are aware of that appears to be blighted to the Building Official. The Building Official shall conduct inspections and prepare and update on a monthly basis a list of blighted premises. A copy of the updated list shall be provided monthly to the Aldermanic Subcommittee.
The Board of Aldermen shall approve, with or without modifications, or disapprove a list of blighted premises which shall be updated from time to time. No property owner shall be cited or fined for violation of this chapter unless such owner’s property is on the list of blighted premises approved by the Board of Aldermen.
The Mayor shall appoint one or more citation hearing officers to conduct the hearings authorized by this section.
Once a blighted property is on the list of blighted properties approved by the Board of Aldermen, the Building Official shall serve a notice of citation on each owner of such blighted property by mailing a notice of citation to the owner by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of such owner or, in the case of an owner who cannot be identified or one whose address is unknown, by publishing a copy of such notice of citation in a daily or weekly newspaper having general circulation in the City of Derby. The notice of citation (hereinafter “citation”) shall state that the property is cited for violating this chapter, list the specific violation or violations, set forth the specific amount of the daily fine levied and state that such fine shall be levied from the date of the citation for each day that any listed violation continues unless all violations are corrected by a designated date, and state that, if the fine is uncontested, it must be paid in full no later than 10 days from the expiration of the designated deadline for correcting all the listed violations. The Building Official may extend his initially designated deadline for correcting violations by mutual agreement with the owner, provided that the extended deadline must be contained in a writing signed by the owner and the Building Official, and further provided that no date for correcting violations shall be more than 30 calendar days from the date of the citation. For the purposes of this section, a facsimile signature shall be deemed a signature.
If all of the violations listed in the citation are not corrected within the initial or extended designated period, as the case may be, and the tine is not paid by the deadline for uncontested payment, then, within 60 days from the expiration of the final period for the uncontested payment of the fine for any citation issued under this section, the Building Officer shall send written notice to the person cited. Such notice shall inform the person cited:
Of the alleged violation(s) of this chapter that have not been corrected and the amount of the fines due;
That he may contest his liability before a citation hearing officer by delivering in person or by mail to the Building Official a written demand for such a hearing within 10 days of the date of said notice;
That, if he does not timely demand such a hearing, an assessment and judgment shall be entered against him; and
That such judgment may issue without further notice.
If the property owner who was sent notice pursuant to Subsection C of this section wishes to admit liability for any alleged violation, he may, without requesting a hearing, pay the full amount of the fines admitted to, in person or by mail to the Building Officer. Such payment shall be inadmissible in any civil or criminal proceeding to establish the conduct of such person or other person making the payment. Any owner served with a notice pursuant to Subsection C of this section who does not deliver or mail written demand for a hearing within 10 days of the date of said notice shall be deemed to have admitted liability, and the Building Official shall certify to the hearing officer such owner’s failure to demand a hearing. The hearing officer shall thereupon enter and assess the fines provided for by this chapter and shall follow the procedures set forth in Subsection F of this section.
Any property owner 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 the notice of hearing, 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 citation issued by the Building Official shall be filed and retained by the municipality and shall be deemed to be a business record within the scope of Connecticut General Statutes Section 51-180 and evidence of the facts contained therein. The presence of the Building Official shall be required at the hearing if the owner so requests. An owner wishing to contest liability shall appear at the hearing in person or by counsel and may present evidence in his/its behalf. The Building Official, or his designee, may present evidence on behalf of the municipality. If the owner fails to appear in person or by counsel, the hearing officer may enter an assessment by default against him upon a finding of proper notice and liability under the applicable statutes and this chapter. The hearing officer may accept from the owner copies of any 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/she 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. If he determines that the owner is not liable, the hearing officer shall dismiss the matter and enter his/her determination in writing accordingly. If the hearing officer determines that the owner is liable for the violation(s), he shall forthwith enter and assess the fines against such owner as provided by § 60-4 and as set forth in the citation.
If such assessed fine is not paid on the date of its entry, the hearing officer shall send, by first-class mail, a notice of the assessment to the owner found liable and shall file, not less than 30 days nor more than 12 months after such mailing, a certified copy of the notice of assessment with the clerk of a superior court facility designated by the Chief Court Administrator within the boundaries of the judicial district in which the municipality is located, together with an entry fee of $8. The certified copy of the notice of assessment shall constitute a record of assessment. Within such twelve-month period, assessments against the same person may be accrued and filed as one record of assessment. The clerk shall enter judgment, in the amount of such record of assessment and court costs of $8, against such person in favor of the municipality. Notwithstanding any other provision of the General Statutes, the hearing officer’s assessment, when so entered as a judgment, shall have the effect of a civil money judgment and a levy of execution on such judgment may issue without further notice to such person.
A person against whom an assessment has been entered pursuant to this section is entitled to judicial review by way of appeal. An appeal shall be instituted within 30 days of the mailing of notice of such assessment by filing a petition to reopen assessment, together with an entry fee in an amount equal to the entry fee for a small claims case pursuant to General Statutes Section 52-259, in the superior court for the geographical area in which the municipality is located, which shall entitle such owner to a hearing in accordance with the rules of the judges of the Superior Court.
Any unpaid fine imposed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall constitute a lien upon the real estate against which the fine was imposed from the date of such fine. Each such lien may be continued, recorded and released in the manner provided by the General Statutes for continuing, recording and releasing property tax liens. Each such lien shall take precedence over all other liens filed after July 1, 1997, and encumbrances, except taxes, and may be enforced in the same manner as property tax liens. The fine shall be retroactive to the date of service of the Building Official’s initial notice of citation to the owner pursuant to Subsection B of § 60-6.
All fines imposed for violations of this chapter shall be deposited into a separate trust in agency account, which shall be a continuing account, and shall be administered by the Board of Aldermen and used solely for carrying out this chapter by acquiring and/or rehabilitating abandoned and other blighted premises and payment of costs associated with the enforcement and administration of this chapter.
The Board of Aldermen may waive and release blight fines and liens if the City of Derby acquires the property. If the blighted real estate is purchased by a third-party buyer, the Board of Aldermen may also waive and release part or all of the fines and liens at the time of the sale of the blighted premises, if, in the Board’s opinion, the buyer has the financial ability and intention to immediately rehabilitate the blighted premises, or the Board may hold all penalties and liens until all rehabilitation is completed to the satisfaction of the Building Official.
If the owner fails to rehabilitate or demolish the blighted premises, and fails to respond to the initial citation of blight served in accordance with Subsection B of § 60-6, falls to respond to a notice served in accordance with Subsection C of § 60-6, fails to appear at a duly noticed bearing before a hearing officer, or fails to pay the assessed fine, the Building Official shall so report on a monthly basis to the Aldermanic Subcommittee. Upon the recommendation of the Aldermanic Subcommittee, the Board of Aldermen may vote whether to:
Take the necessary steps to acquire blighted premises which have been certified by the Building Official to be abandoned pursuant to the Urban Homesteading Act, Connecticut General Statutes Sections 8-169o through 8-169w, as may be amended from time to time.
Take the necessary steps to acquire and rehabilitate the blighted premises in accordance with any Comprehensive Plan of Development for the City.
Take the necessary steps to acquire blighted premises, provided that there are funds available, using such other state or federal funding sources, if any, as may be available.