This article by Bob Audette originally appeared Aug. 19 in the Brattleboro Reformer.
BRATTLEBORO — Can the town do more to force landlords with dilapidated or “nuisance” properties to clean up their apartment buildings?
“A private nuisance is something we can’t touch,” said Brian Bannon, Brattleboro’s Zoning Administrator.
Bannon and Leonard “Lennie” Howard, assistant fire chief and Brattleboro’s health officer, focus on health and life safety issues. Brattleboro’s zoning ordinance doesn’t give them the authority to take enforcement actions against owners of properties that are generally run down but not dangerous or that might have a reputation for criminal activity, such as the dealing of drugs out of an apartment.
Springfield and Bellows Falls have ordinances to give the zoning administrators more power when it comes to dealing with nuisance properties and Rockingham is considering adopting the ordinance the village has had since 1990.
“We don’t have an overarching nuisance ordinance,” said Town Manager Peter Elwell. “We have a health ordinance, a solid waste ordinance and the new rental housing ordinance … that are subject-specific.”
Town enacts new inspection program
The town estimates there are about 3,020 rental units in the community. Elwell said at a recent Select Board meeting that a lot of properties are in good condition while some have minor violations, but there are “some situations where some landlords have not taken proper care of their facilities.”
The new ordinance allows Howard and Bannon to inspect each unit in town every four years at a charge to property owners of $75 per unit. The hope is the new ordinance will ensure apartments will be safer, healthier and less prone to blight.
Read full story at the Brattleboro Reformer.
(Fair use with written permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)