Groton Town Council passes townwide blight ordinance

Groton - The Town Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to adopt a townwide blight ordinance that would allow the town to fine property owners $10 to $100 a day if they allow their properties to become unsightly.

Michael Clancy of Preston, who co-owns a commercial property on Route 12, said he hopes the town enforces the new ordinance. "If you start to let your town go into disarray, it's going to be hard to bring it back," he told the council. "It's going to be a quality-of-life issue."

The ordinance, which becomes active in 45 days unless the Representative Town Meeting vetoes it, defines blight as conditions deemed "a serious or immediate threat to the health, safety and welfare of the community," including fire hazards and property becoming "dilapidated."

The "dilapidated" condition includes properties with missing, broken or boarded-up windows for more than six months, yards strewn with trash, properties infested with rodents and structures with collapsing or missing walls and roofs.

Clancy said he and his brother, Daniel Clancy, own a commercial property on Route 12 with space for four businesses and have lost tenants due to blight. Clancy's property houses Subway in one building and Transformations Salon in a second building. The beauty salon is in a one-story building attached to a two-story building with two vacant rental spaces.

Clancy said GEICO Insurance left in August 2011 after 22 years, citing blight as a reason. He's been unable to rent the space since.

According to town records, the blighted property to which Clancy is referring is owned by Cassette LLC, of which Gretchen Chipperini is listed as agent under the state's website for registering businesses.

The Chipperini family owned the house at 23 Library St. in Mystic whose condition long was the subject of controversy and was destroyed by arson fire in 2008. Groton town officials took Chipperini to court almost a year after the fire to enforce an order that the house be demolished for safety reasons.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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