The Town Council set a date to hear public comments on a proposed blight ordinance for the Town of Ledyard Wednesday. Town officials believe that blighted properties around town are bringing down property values and pose a threat to the health, safety and general welfare of residents.
Drafts of an ordinance have been kicking around for at least two years. Some people say the town should enforce the current zoning regulations and “leave well enough alone,” others say there is a definite problem of junk piles in Gales Ferry and Ledyard.
The ordinance doesn’t stray or differ greatly from the building code and zoning regulations in place now but it does establish a way for the town to cite residents for violations and initiate legal proceedings.
Right now, regulations prohibit “junk” from being “placed, stored, co-located, or maintained outside on any lot in any district.” And, only one hobby vehicle can be located in a side or rear yard and must be screened from public view.
The town says no more than one vehicle with an expired registration can be stored or parked outside, but also, that vehicle must be in good enough condition that it can be registered at any time.
The Ordinance's Definition of Blight
Any building, structure, premises or any part of a structure that is a separate unit, in which any of the following or any combination of the following conditions exists:
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 Official.
B. Abandoned/vacant building structure as defined in Section 117.1.1 of the 2009 Amendment to the 2005 State Building Code that has become an illegal residence as documented by the police.
C. It is not being maintained and contributes to housing decay, as evidenced by one or more of the following existing conditions, or combination thereof:
a) Any structure which is in a state of dilapidation or decay or is open to the elements or unable to provide shelter or serve the purpose for which it was constructed due to damage, dilapidation or decay;
b) Premises containing accumulating debris; and
c) Landscaping on any premises, including, but not limited to, trees, shrubs, hedges, grass and plants, which physically hinder or interfere with the lawful use of abutting premises or block or interfere with the use of any public sidewalk and/or private street or right-of-way or any road sign.
D. It is attracting illegal activity as evidenced by the following:
a) Multiple felony or misdemeanor arrests on the premises;
b) Abandoned and/or vacant building or structure devoid of water, sewer, utility function or service, that has become an illegal residence.
E. Is a fire hazard as determined by the Fire Marshal or documented via fire department records;
F. The premises creates substantial and unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of surrounding premises as reported by neighborhood complaints, fire, public safety or health department reports.
The public will have a chance to discuss the town’s proposed ordinance on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Annex.