Groton blight ordinance gets public support at hearing

Groton - All but one of the half-dozen speakers at a public hearing Tuesday said they supported a proposed blight ordinance that would fine property owners $10 to $100 a day if they allow their buildings and yards to become unsightly.

The Town Council is expected to discuss the ordinance as a Committee of the Whole Aug. 13 and vote on the measure Aug. 20. If the ordinance passes, it would become law unless the Representative Town Meeting vetoes it within 45 days by a two-thirds vote. Voters could also petition the ordinance to referendum by collecting about 100 signatures.

Randall L. Regnere, who spoke at the hearing, said he didn't know why anyone would oppose it.

"All we want to do is have this town look nice," he said.

The ordinance would define blight as properties deemed "a serious or immediate threat to the health, safety and welfare of the community," those deemed fire hazards and those becoming dilapidated. The measure defines "dilapidated" as including properties with missing, broken or boarded-up windows for more than six months, yards strewn with trash or properties infested with rodents.

George Fetkin told the council that he walks down Long Hill Road five days a week and passes the same overgrown property each day. He believes there are rodents now living in the weeds.

"It's unsatisfactory that I should have to walk in the street because of the vegetation," he said.

Joan Steinford, a member of the RTM who spoke as a homeowner, said blight is a health and safety issue and makes the town look bad.

"It's just think it's a disgrace to Groton to endure uncaring owners," she said.

- Deborah Straszheim

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