Town Council tables vacant property ordinance

GREENFIELD — The Town Council has tabled a proposed ordinance that would require all property owners to maintain their properties, at least to the point that they don’t abandon them and let them slip into disrepair.

Several councilors said on Wednesday night that they wanted the ordinance to go back to committee for more work. The council had expected to vote on the ordinance this week.

Instead, Precinct 3 Councilor Brickett Allis said he felt the proposed ordinance is too restrictive, even after the Economic Development Committee’s rewrite, and much too subjective, especially when it comes to the definition of a nuisance property.

“If something is a health or safety issue, the town already has ways to deal with and enforce that,” said Allis. “People have a right to have wood on their property. I don’t think the town should be in the business of telling people how to live.”

Other councilors agreed with Allis and the council voted unanimously to send it back to the EDC.

So, the town still does not have an ordinance to regulate vacant properties, but councilors said they have faith that other town ordinances, zoning laws and health and building laws will cover something if there is a problem between now and when the town does pass such an ordinance.

Mayor William Martin said the Vacant Property and Nuisance Ordinance he proposed is intended to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents 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.

The mayor, who attended the meeting, did not object to the EDC revisiting the issue and the council waiting to take a vote.

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