August 19, 2018

Essex’s Needlemen of Two Minds About a Blight Ordinance, Opposes a Neighbor’s Role

"Blighted" property at on North Main Street at New City Street

“Blighted” property at on North Main Street at New City Street

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman, in a recent written statement, says in effect that he is ambivalent about Essex adopting a Blight ordinance.  On the other hand he is inequitably opposed to any town ordinance that would permit a neighbor to bring a formal complaint against a neighbor, whose property is “blighted.”

In his statement the First Selectman said, “Blight” speaks to a town, city, or neighborhood, and not an individual property.”  Furthermore, he said, “This ordinance in no way would impact occupied properties and would not be a vehicle where neighbor could complain about neighbors.”

These views by the First Selectman, among others, will be the subject of a public hearing at Essex Town Hall on Wednesday, November 6 at 7:00 p.m.

Continuing in expressing his views as to whether or not Essex should adopt a Blight ordinance, the First Selectman said, “I understand both sides of the issue. My libertarian side feels that these situations come up occasionally and then are resolved in the course of time, so imposing an ordinance might be an overreach. I feel strongly that the rights of property owners should be respected.”

“On the other hand,” he continues, “I understand how people who have been forced to live next door to these long term, dilapidated properties feel, and I understand how the value of their property has been affected.”

Blight Ordinance Not to Affect Existing Situations

In addition in his statement Needleman said, “Unfortunately, a new ordinance would not likely be able to be used for an existing situation.  It would generally affect those situations that occur after the ordinance goes into effect.”

Concluding, the First Selectman said, “I am anxious to hear how the public feels, so I want to encourage as many people as possible to come to the hearing.”

He added, “I suspect that I will have to set some ground rules at the hearing, like giving each person 2 or 3 minutes to speak their mind.”

Essex Top Three Blighted Properties

There is a general consensus that there are three existing properties in Essex that on a reasonable basis could be considered as “blighted.” The most well known of these properties is the one located on North Main Street at the corner of New City Street. A second “blighted” property is located on the left side of Prospect Street, as it comes into North Main Street, and the third such property is located at the end of Captain’s Walk facing the Old Saybrook Turnpike (Route 154).

Side of Captain's Walk property on Old Saybrook Turnpike (Route 154)

Side of Captain’s Walk property on Old Saybrook Turnpike (Route 154)

It appears that the Town of Essex by some small measure has tried to touch up at least two of the “blighted” properties in Essex. The grass appears to have been mowed, although the sidewalk has not been raked of leaves, at the North Main Street/New City Street property.  Also, the grass appears to have been mowed, perhaps by the town, at the “blighted” property located at Captain’s Walk on the Old Saybrook Turnpike.

Entrance to blighted property on Prospect Street at North Main Street

Entrance to blighted property on Prospect Street at North Main Street

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