The Cheshire Town Council Ordinance Committee has been meeting regularly to discuss the adoption of a town-wide blight ordinance, and Ordinance Committee Chair David Veleber believes a recommendation could be made to the Town Council by the summer.
“We know this is something that Cheshire residents are pretty eager to learn about,” he stated. “This is something that the Committee has been really working on, and we believe that we are all on the same page about what we want to see.”
Currently, the Town has an Unsafe Premises Ordinance, which addresses buildings and facilities that are deemed structurally unsafe by local officials. However, the Town stopped short of instituting a full blight ordinance while adopting the unsafe premises ordinance two years ago, deciding to focus solely on properties that were considered dangerous in some manner.
“The Fire Marshall can go in and tell people what is wrong with the building so it can stay up and is safe for people to use, but the ordinance doesn’t address aesthetics or anything related to blight,” Veleber explained. “I do see the value in the unsafe premises ordinance, but the blight ordinance will go that much further.”
According to Veleber, the pandemic has only exacerbated the need for the ordinance, due to an abundance of people spending more time at home.
“Either people are just staring every day at glaring issues, or they are maybe noticing a lot more than they would otherwise (because of being home more),” he explained. “All the members on this Committee have seen or experienced properties in town that are not in great shape. We don’t want this to be something we have to use everywhere, but it is necessary in some places.”
The hiring of the new town attorney, Jeff Donofrio, was, in part, due to the experience his firm has in this field of work, Veleber said.
“(Donofrio) has someone at his firm who is very experienced in land work and ordinance review, which will be very useful for us,” Veleber added. “He will officially start on April 1, but he is going over our documentation and reviews now.”
Ultimately, Veleber stated that he and his fellow Committee members, which include Democratic Councilors Jim Jinks and Peter Talbot, are in agreement that the town needs an official blight ordinance, but work still needs to be done to draft the right language for such a proposal.