The city’s Blight Committee, created a decade ago to spearhead a “war on blight,” has been tossed on the trash heap.
In its place will be a new Code Enforcement Committee with more far-reaching power that can deal with both the appearance and structural integrity of property within the city.
“It streamlines the process,” said city Councilor Ken Cockayne, who called the change a great move.
The new law says that all structures in the city should be free of abandoned vehicles, nuisances, refuse, pollution and filth.Under the terms of the new statute, the exterior can’t have broken glass, loose shingles, holes, cracked or damaged siding, crumbling brick or other conditions “reflective of deterioration or inadequate maintenance.”
Violators face $100-a-day fines that can pile up quickly if property owners refuse to comply with orders to clean up unsightly or unhealthy conditions.
“The bar has been raised,” said city Councilor Kevin McCauley, who helped push for the change.
Both McCauley and Cockayne said that aggressive new efforts to crack down on blight and code problems are already making a difference.
McCauley said the team approach taken to push for code enforcement is helping to educate property owners about legal requirements and assisting them in tackling the problems they have.
Police Officer Tom Lavigne, who focuses on code issues, and Building Official Guy Morin like to go together to deal with property owners who have problems that need attention."We always take a friendly approach," Lavigne said, because the goal is voluntary compliance. The pair try to let people know about programs that might help them comply with the law."It's an educational effort as much as an enforcement effort," Mayor Art Ward said.City Councilor Mike Rimcoski said he went out with the pair on some calls and found they were getting much success out of taking a helpful approach instead of a confrontational one.City Councilor Kevin McCauley said that the team approach has made a difference.
Both Bristol Hospital and the Greater Bristol Chamber of Commerce called for passage of the new law, which will take effect in a couple of weeks.
The meetings of the new committee are open to the public. Its records will also be available under state open government rules.
Who would serve on the Code Enforcement Committee?
* Police Chief
* A police officer designated to do code enforcement
* Zoning enforcement officer
* Health director
* Fire chief or his designee
* Public works director
* Chief building officer
* A citizen appointed by the mayor
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