WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) -- Getting police involved in the fight against blight; one city is considering letting its police officers write up criminal violations to those who have blighted properties.
It was a packed meeting Tuesday night, many people came out to let the city know how they feel about the proposal in which landlords could face criminal charges for not taking care of their properties.
"We might have some, got a few that are boarded up, yeah, a few boarded up and they look like they're old," one local resident said of the blight.
Everyone in Waterbury seems to agree it's a problem, but how to fix it is not so simple. Now a new controversial blight law aimed at landlords has folks speaking out. The reason is that the law would change to make not cleaning up a property a criminal offense. At the Board of Aldermen's meeting Tuesday night many expressed frustration.
"Six properties, one he lives in that's good, the other one up the street from his home which is good, but the other five is decapitated and you wanna fine landlords," said Cynthia Robinson, of Waterbury.
Most argued against the law. Many, landlords themselves, saying they shouldn't be the only ones singled out.
"You gotta put in there wording for the tenants that cause this," said Waterbury resident Alex Velez, "and make it where you're going after the tenants a little bit more."
And many pointed out that banks that own foreclosed properties and larger companies might not face the same penalties. The police say 90 percent of the problem is caused by just 10 percent of the landlords, people who have ignored previous warnings to fix the problem. They say this law would give them some leverage. However, some say they aren't comfortable with the police involvement at all.
"I don't think the police should come to your residence type of deal, but there should be some kind of penalty for not upkeeping your...it is a health issue also, it really is," said Greg Evon, of Waterbury.
It's not yet clear what kind of fines or jail time a landlord would be looking at under the proposed law. There was no vote Tuesday night, as it was just a public hearing.
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