The city had proposed a more forceful blight ordinance in June, but that ordinance was tabled for a month to give Danbury time to reconcile its ordinances with state laws scheduled to take effect in October.
The blight ordinance, as will be considered Tuesday night, includes provisions for a $250 per day state fine plus a $100 per day city fine. That's $350 per day.
In Danbury, the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team (UNIT) investigates blight complaints. Blight is generally defined as an unsightly or unsafe condition at a house, such as abandoned cars, litter, garbage spilling out of garbage cans, and other visual problems, like houses badly in need of repair. In that case it is a problem that drags down a neighborhood.
The UNIT uses city workers from the police, fire marshals, Zoning, Housing, and Health Departments, among others. In some cases, the UNIT will revisit a house five or more times and see little progress. This ordinance is designed to put some force behind its efforts.
"It's going to go to public hearing," said Council President Joe Cavo. "Now I can't figure out what the Democrats will do. I don't think there will be any issues."
Cavo said the public hearing will give everyone a chance to talk about the new ordinances covering blight. During the council's committee meeting on the ordinance, Deputy Corporation Counsel Robin Edwards said that once the city's UNIT has exhausted its efforts to clean up a blighted property, the UNIT can turn that case over to the State's Attorney. That step follows repeated visits, written notice and other legal processes, such as 30-day letters..
"The fines are outrageous," said City Council Member Paul Rotello. "That's $350 a day. That's $10,000 a month. This is a draconian penalty."