NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk’s blight ordinance, drafted by the 2011-13 Common Council and strengthened by the 2013-15 Council, is creating great results, according to Norwalk Chief Building Official Bill Ireland.
“I am very pleased with it. I know a lot of taxpayers think I am too slow, but we do get results on a continual basis,” Ireland said.
“Besides collecting the fines and then keeping a record, the work that has been completed has brought in an extra $100,000 in property tax. To me, that’s as much as collecting a fine. That comes in annually where the fine is one shot,” Ireland said.
On Wednesday, Ireland showed a thick three-ring binder with before-and-after photos of houses that had been fixed up after being cited under the ordinance. It ranged from homes that had simply had landscaping cleaned up to abandoned homes that had been purchased and demolished, and new homes built on the same footprint.
The latter is what he said generates increases in property tax collections. Norwalk also is collecting money from building permits, he said.
In March, Ireland said there was $40,000 in the account of collected fees. A fee of $20,000 had been collected from one violator but then reinvested back into the house to put on a new roof, he said.
The ordinance calls for fines of $100 per day for violators.
Ireland said Thursday that one yard had been cleaned up as fines accrued. The homeowner was letting it slide again and a letter just went out to inform him that fines were being imposed again, Ireland said.
The ordinance was applied to commercial properties in January due to the 2015 Council action.
Commercial property blight violation complaints were coming in hot and heavy, Ireland said in March.
On Thursday, he said that a Main Avenue gas station is slated for demolition. The property was sold, cleaned up, and a new building will go up in its place, he said.
He could not come up with a number of ongoing blight investigations, but said it’s a process.
“It takes time because there’s statutes that protect everybody,” Ireland said.
Neighbors who have filed complaints are sometimes unhappy about the rate of progress, but, “You have to have some consideration for those who are trying and don’t have it,” Ireland said. “I am not here to kick people out of their house.”