Blight Ordinance Not Garbage, Just Needs Revisions

The proposed blight ordinance was up to be adopted but was postponed again after citizen objections.


The Ledyard Town Council postponed the adoption of a blight ordinance Wednesday as a result of comments made by citizens during a public hearing.

The ordinance, which will give the town power to exact civil penalties from offending property owners, was sent back to committee after citizens pointed out omissions and conflicts.

“We may not nail it down but we’d like to get it right the first time,” said Councilor Kevin Dombrowski of the postponement.

Former chair of the now-dissolved Zoning Commission Eric Treaster was there to point out the problems with the proposed ordinance. Among many issues he had with the draft, the town’s threshold is too low and it’s too easy to establish a building as blight and the town’s ordinance does not contain nor does it refer to a specific definition of “dilapidated.”

“That was one of dozens of defects with the document,” he said.

The ordinance allows the town to assess a $25-a-day penalty on blighted property.

The Town Council agreed to reconsider and incorporate some of Treaster’s points into the next draft.

“If we pass it without those in, we’ll be taken to court,” said Councilor Mary McGrattan.

Treaster wasn’t the only who took issue with the ordinance.

Sharon Pealer stood in objection to the ordinance saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Pealer was concerned about hobby cars and cautioned the town to consider cultural differences and norms while evaluating what one person may consider blight.

Bil Burling, stood up with concerns about the boat he stores on his property and asked the council how big the problem is.  They said that out of 6,200 to 6,300 houses in town they could only guess how many houses would be considered blighted.

“Why are you creating an ordinance for a problem that you can’t define and can’t give me hard numbers for,” asked Bil Burling.

Councilors Steve Eichelberg and Mike France said they saw six houses in the Avery Hill area that they considered blight.

Other property owners were hopeful that the ordinance would take care of some problems.

“I just want to thank the town for working for the residents of the town to ensure that their property values are protected,” said Drew Wesche. “Someone can now rest assured that there is some protection to prevent what you see here.” At that point, Wesche passed around Google Earth photos taken of a neighbor’s property that he found to be a blight. 

Town Councilor John Marshall assured Mr. Burling that his boat will be safe from the ordinance’s penalties.

“If you have rats on your property going to your neighbors’, that’s what this is all about,” he said.

dawn d January 11, 2013 at 03:18 AM
Sadly, I had to work last night. I had desperately wanted to go but couldn't get a sub. My neighbor throws household trash out in their front yard. I have had wild animals rip their bags open and drag used feminine products into my yard. The town has tried to get the people to clean it up, but without an ordinance, the town lacks any bite and my neighbors know it. Every week, the trash pile gets larger with broken furniture, glass, food garbage, etc. some thing needs to be done... I pay my taxes and do what's right. I'd like others to do the same...
Jessie King January 11, 2013 at 03:54 AM
Sharon Pealer January 11, 2013 at 07:10 PM
Sadly Doreen you have defined your concept of what constitutes blight far more clearly than what I could see written in this version of the ordinance. I have heard several times however from members of the town council that this is being written in part to force banks to clean up foreclosed property and part of the discussion at this hearing involved mention of establishment of liens on properties not in compliance. It crossed my mind that this may make it even harder for someone new to purchase and care for said property. I did speak and say that we need to take into consideration other cultures values and to be honest it is not right of any of us to judge what is treasure and what in some cases is trash. Garbage thrown out is far different than an attempt to landscape in a unique way. I have seen some very artful landscaping using old farm equipment and boats that will never sail again. By the way, I would not at all claim my self to be in the majority, but some of what I have seen displayed at the MOMA is trash to me.
Tina January 11, 2013 at 10:06 PM
When people mention rats it must be taken into context, I live across from a very beautiful farm with animals and I cannot feed the birds in my yard because it attracts the rats up from the farm, I have come home in broad daylight and seen them on my porch. BUT I understand that part of having that beautiful view is dealing with the "critters" that willalwasys accompany a farm.
Todd Grace January 12, 2013 at 04:02 PM
Are we the first town ever to pass a blight ord??? I think not. I can google and find a draft that addresss all the concerns stated here. Ledyard town gov is hilarious. I am new to the town and have a quick question. Why are there're so many trailers here?? My favorite is the "go pats" trailer on long cove rd.


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