NEW FAIRFIELD – The Board of Selectmen set a date for a Town Meeting for approval for the Town to use up to $27,906.94 from the Hindman/Bernhard Trust to fund the purchase of a Lifepack unit to be used in the Town’s mobile medic car. The Board set the date as Thursday, September 27th at 7:15pm in the Community Room.
The Board next discussed guidelines for a new blight ordinance draft at its regular meeting September 13. First Selectman Pat Del Monaco began by giving some background on the blight discussions leading up to the current meeting She noted that all the surrounding towns, except for Sherman, have a blight ordinance. She noted that the reason the Board is discussing a blight ordinance is not to monitor how high someone’s grass is, but to address properties in town that “pose a danger to either to the neighbors, or anyone in the neighborhood. They tend to be abandoned homes.” She said that the model that the Board is looking at is Ridgefield’s blight ordinance that will be modified to fit New Fairfield’s parameters. She noted the many area blight ordinances appear to have used Ridgefield’s ordinance as a guide at least partially.
Selectman Khris Hall noted that the Board has completely thrown out the draft of a previous ordinance proposal that had been defeated two years ago and is starting with a clean slate. There will be nothing from past drafts in the new draft. She stated that there is a process that includes many steps that must be fulfilled to try to work through the issue before the Town has to correct the problem itself and place a lien on the property. She said the draft ordinance does what many of the Town boards and commissions do, which is use a process to explore alternatives to come to a resolution.
Ms. Del Monaco noted the model provides for special considerations, such as the elderly or disabled. She also mentioned that it would be a Blight Ordinance Board that would meet to discuss each case, while giving the Town a means to act on blighted properties if necessary. The Board discussed how the model could or should be changed. Selectman Kim Hanson felt that there was some redundancy in the way to draft was worded, and that there might be some overlap in other ordinances and policies already in place.
He also pointed out that language appeared to be lacking regarding immediate dangers, such as leaning/dead trees overhanging neighboring structures. Ms. Del Monaco said that she would work on incorporating language addressing those items. The Board also discussed defining potentially ambiguous items. One example cited was a structure having missing or boarded up windows or doors and defining that as two or more.
After discussing the document and agreeing on multiple areas to revise, Ms. Del Monaco brought up the subject of next steps. It was decided that the changes discussed would be incorporated into the document before holding two public hearings to gain input from the public. The draft will be available to view on the Town website and the Board welcomes public input on the subject.
The Board next voted to recommend the transfer of open space in the Barn Brook subdivision from the Town of New Fairfield to the Candlewood Valley Land Trust. The land had been part of a bequest to the Town. The Board voted to move it to the Town Planning Commission prior to a Town Meeting.
The next regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen is scheduled for Thurs., Sept. 27 at 7:30pm in the Community Center.
By Greg Slomba