For the first time since March, a Town Council meeting was held in person in Council Chambers at Town Hall.
And one of the first things to be discussed was the unsafe premises ordinance enacted by the Town in recent years.
Councilors voted to open a public hearing on the ordinance, with discussion centered on amending the ordinance’s sunset provision, which would extend it for the next two years. The vote to hold the public hearing passed unanimously by the Council.
“This was an ordinance that was passed a few years ago to help with some of the issues facing the town,” said Councilor David Veleber, one of the leading voices for the ordinance. “This is to help those who have had issues with unsafe situations on properties. The former Fire Marshall John Andrews had a role in this and as the unsafe premises enforcement officer he has said that this program has been a successful tool to help address the issues of concern.
According to Veleber, the Ordinance Committee will review the extension and decide whether or not to approve the motion, although they have been unable to meet regularly due to COVID-19 restrictions. Veleber expressed his hope that the Committee will be able to get the ball rolling.
“This is just a reminder for the people, that we are going to be having a public hearing on this issue,” added Council Chair Rob Oris. “We will know more information later on, but this right now is making sure we extend that sunset provision for the people.”
Efforts to address potentially unsafe residential properties have been ongoing in recent years. In 2014, the death of a Winslow Road resident whose home collapsed under the weight of items she had hoarded spurred the Town to establish a task force with the aim of preventing a similar incident.
In 2017, the Town cleaned up a Peck Lane property after receiving complaints of hoarding and unsanitary conditions from neighbors. Less than a year later, officials proposed adopting a blight ordinance, which was eventually scaled back to address structural, safety and health issues only.
The public hearing will be held on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. and can be viewed virtually on the towns’ YouTube page.