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Griswold residents vote again on changes to blight ordinance

New London

What constitutes blight? Often it depends on who you ask.

“You can see it’s just garbage and people not upkeeping their houses,” said Timothy Finnen of Griswold.

A revised blight ordinance first proposed during a town meeting in January says blighted properties, buildings, and structures adversely affect the economic well-being of the town and hurt the health, safety and general welfare of residents. Tesha Sutcliffe lives next door to an abandoned home with a car seat sitting on the front lawn.

“Other people might have an issue with it but I don’t see a problem with it. It’s just a building,” said Sutcliffe.

Finnen thinks there is a blight problem in town. “Yes I do most definitely,” said Finnen.

Griswold resident Brian Gavitt disagrees. “No I don’t,” said Gavitt. “I think everything is fine.”

The ordinance is enforced when Griswold receives a complaint.

Some say the changes introduced in January and rejected by residents during that town meeting give officials more power to fight blight but they also give those who don’t agree with a citation a chance to appeal it in front of three hearing officers.

“That would be fair give people a chance,” said Gavitt.

In the original ordinance, those who didn’t pay their fines were taken to court.

“Yeah nobody wants to go to court,” said Gavitt.

The blight ordinance has been on the books since 2010 and January was the first time changes were being voted on.

Some folks liked the idea of the appeal process but they still had concerns. So this time around more changes are being made.

At Tuesday’s town meeting voters see that mold on the outside of structure is no longer a violation and fines have been reduced from $100 to $50 and will only be due 30 days after an appeal is lost.

“Yeah maybe after the hearing,” said Gavitt. “Give them a chance to make their case.

“I think it’s been ongoing,” said Finnen. “People should know enough to keep up their property.”

If they don’t, the town can continue to take action.

Tuesday’s town meeting began at 5p.m. in the community room at Griswold Town Hall.

Results of the vote on changes to the blight ordinance will be updated once News8 receives that information.

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