Cambridge City residents concerned about blight now have a new form they can use to alert town officials to properties they believe need help.
Town attorney Bob Bever created the “Citizen Complaint Form for Potential ‘Blighted’ Property” that is available at town hall. It asks for the address of the property and owner/occupant if known, a brief description of the property that they believe is blighted or violates other town codes.
The town currently has tools (code sections) regarding tall grass/weeds, unsafe buildings and excess litter/neglected properties. It also has rules regarding abandoned vehicles.
The form requests what remedy or action they think is necessary, and the contact information of the complainant.
Cambridge City leaders are also looking into posting the form on the town’s website.s.
Bever cautioned that town officials might not agree with the complainant’s assessment, and those who fill out forms aren’t guaranteed any particular desired result.
>> What are current blight-fighting procedures?
Weed liens: At this time, residents can be fined for weeds at least a foot tall. The town must give the owner at least 10 days’ prior notice to mow their lawn. If no action is taken, the town can mow and send the owner a bill due in 10 days. If no payment is made, the town can put a collectable lien on the real estate.
Unsafe Buildings: A building can be declared unsafe for five reasons: if it’s in an impaired structural condition that makes it unsafe for people, creates a hazard for fire or public health, is dangerous because of a clear violation of state/local laws or ordinances, or qualifies as a public nuisance.
In addition to using self-help and performing remedial action on its own, the town can fine the property owner of as much as $2,500.
Excess litter/neglected premises: The town requires owners to maintain property in a “reasonably litter free condition.”
After sending a letter that notes violations of code, the town can’t take action to clean up a mess if the condition isn’t corrected by the owner. It only can fine the owner as much as $2,500.
Council members Debbie McGinley and Jim McLane, Risch and Bever formed a committee to discuss potential fees for blight and including a progressive fine depending on the number of violations. They are to present their findings at an upcoming meeting.
>> More detail is printed in the May 18 edition of Western Wayne News.