Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Owner ordered to clean properties

After withdrawing appeal, CRC chair is given 30 days to abate 4 ‘nuisance’ properties

SPRINGFIELD — The town of Springfield ha...s reached an agreement with a local property owner to clean up four separate “nuisance” properties. All four must be abated and have all outdoor debris removed within 30 days.

During what he described as a “hearing in public” at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, Springfield Town Attorney Stephen Ankuda said that Will Hunter, chair of Community Restoration Corp. Inc. (CRC), had agreed earlier that afternoon to comply with a proposed order by the town.

“We reached an agreement this afternoon with Mr. Hunter,” Ankuda said.

As part of the agreement, Hunter has withdrawn an appeal based on the town’s Feb. 27 issuance of Notices of Finding of Nuisance and Orders of Abatement for those four properties, Ankuda said.

Members of the Springfield Selectboard toured the four properties — at 22 Chester Road and 12 Central St. in Springfield, and 67 Furnace St. and 7 School St. in North Springfield — prior to the hearing and regular selectboard meeting.

For all four properties, the selectboard voted unanimously on Monday evening to adopt a “nuisance and abatement order,” based on findings that the properties are each in violation of the town of Springfield’s code.

The order included that the owner needs to abate and “lawfully dispose of” any debris originating on the property within 30 days, by the end of the day on March 29, 2017, and that the property owner not add any further debris outside the structures.

Failure to abate would result in a municipal ticket of $500 per day each violation would continue to occur, according to the order. A court could also require that the properties be abated and that costs be paid for by CRC if the properties are not abated and cleaned up according to the town’s order.

Hunter was not present at the hearing.

At the hearing, Ankuda distributed photos, taken earlier in the day at all four properties, to the selectboard. Ankuda also called Zoning Administrator Bill Kearns to testify on the condition of the four properties.

“The owner has a habit of moving junk from one place to another,” and has at least four other properties in town, Kearns said. He asked that wording on the order could specify that debris could not be moved from one place to another.

Ankuda said the order states that debris must be moved off of these properties.

Springfield resident Walter Clark asked during the hearing if the property owner could appeal again.

If that were to happen, he would likely go to court to appeal, Kearns said. Ankuda added that the town would probably still be pursuing the municipal ticket in that case, but “if he appealed, we would not go out there and clean it up.”

The appeal to this board is completed at this time, and Hunter “cannot duplicate it here,” Selectboard Chair Kristi Morris said.

Several of these properties were purchased by CRC Inc. from banks that had foreclosed on the properties, according to McNaughton.

The detritus has an adverse impact on the neighborhood, MacGillivray said, adding that it can also adversely impact the tax base.

At 7 School St., debris included a mattress, a “odiferous debris pile” with a stationary Volvo station wagon that has not moved since November, a second car that may have just been parked there, and smaller pieces of debris, bags, and old furniture. Much of the debris is within 50-75 feet of a public right-of-way, Kearns said.

Audience member Francine Provost asked about a recreation park that borders the property, and said the debris pile has “become a mountain” and is cascading down on the North School land. She asked who would clean it.

“If he doesn’t clean it up, somebody has to clean it up. It would be up to the town,” Kearns said.
Kearns said that would be covered under the same ordinance, that a person cannot throw their debris on another person’s property.

One audience member asked about vehicles that are parked, and only used for parts, and whether that would qualify as a nuisance.

Kearns said that some vehicles are used for destruction derbies or flower pots. He said as long as they are in use, he does not “bother” the owners, but if a vehicle is used for parts it is best to store it in a garage.

The intent is “not for us to become enforcement Nazis,” but some of the properties have become egregious, McNaughton said. The intent is to deal with those egregious properties, he said.

The nuisance ordinance dealing with debris has been in effect for years, but was not always enforced, McNaughton said.

The town has 11 other letters out on zoning violations, half of which have already been cleaned up, according to Kearns.

Eagle Times

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