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Council likely to vote on property ordinance

GREENFIELD — It looks like Town Council will vote tonight on a proposed ordinance that would require all property owners to maintain their properties, at least to the point where they don’t abandon them and let them slip into disrepair, but wouldn’t have so many restrictions that it doesn’t allow a homeowner to keep a box of nails or a couple of two-by-fours on a porch.

Economic Development Committee Chairman Patrick Devlin said his committee would most likely remove any wording that wouldn’t allow a box of nails to sit on a porch for any amount of time.

Devlin said the committee would probably also vote an amendment to the proposed ordinance to reduce fines imposed from $300 to $100, or something similar.

He said if someone can’t afford to keep their property from disrepair, they probably can’t afford to pay a $300 fine for each violation.

Martin said the Vacant Property and Nuisance Ordinance is intended to protect the health, safety and welfare of resident of Greenfield while preventing blight.

“We want to protect property values and neighborhood integrity,” said Martin. “We also want to protect town resources by avoiding the creation of nuisances, which then the town has to deal with at some point.”

Martin has said that inadequately maintained residential and commercial properties need to be kept safe and sanitary. He said they are a risk for fire, unlawful entry or other public health and safety hazards.

Devlin said he believes the town needs such an ordinance, but is also concerned about enforcement.

According to the proposed ordinance, a nuisance includes, but is not limited to, buildings destroyed by fire, buildings deemed uninhabitable, dilapidated properties, dangerous or unsafe structures or personal property, overgrown vegetation that could harbor rats and vermin, pools of stagnant water, junk in yards, unregistered vehicles in yards, and rubbish in yards.

Property owners who abandon or leave a property vacant would need to maintain that property and any buildings on it, according to the ordinance. They would also have to comply with fire codes and secure the property.

The town’s building and health inspectors would investigate any complaints about an abandoned or nuisance property and would always have right of access to it.

Then, after an inspection, an owner would receive direction from the town about what he or she must do to comply with the ordinance.

The council could accept, reject or amend the proposed ordinance tonight. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Greenfield Community Television studio on Main Street.

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