A "clear path'' for handling blight complaints was unveiled Monday by Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr.
The proposed ordinance drafted by City Attorney Win Smith at the mayor's request would put the Health Department at the center of what until now has been a fragmented process.
The city's health director, Dr. A. Dennis McBride, will have the role of anti-blight officer, and residents' complaints would be made to that department.
The Health Department already coordinates several initiatives designed to ensure safe housing conditions, "and it makes sense to keep this there,'' Richetelli said.
The mayor has in the past maintained that the city doesn't need an anti-blight ordinance because existing laws address the problem. "What has changed is the economy,'' he said Monday afternoon.
"We're seeing more dilapidated properties, even more complaints about high grass,'' the mayor said. "We've been handling them from this office and forwarding them to agencies with code-enforcement authority.'' The proposed ordinance includes an appeal process, including the opportunity for property owners to bring the matter to court.
Members of the Economic Development Commission last month agreed to work toward a better-coordinated process for addressing blight, noting the lack of a centralized complaint office.
The commission is chaired by Genevieve Salvatore, a Democratic candidate for mayor. Richetelli said he was unaware of that effort when he advanced his proposal.
"I prefer to get things done," the mayor said. Two run-down and hazardous houses, one on East Broadway and the other on Village Road, were torn down by the city this year, and a Benham Avenue property was repaired, with the city filing a lien for repayment.
The Board of Aldermen will have the proposed ordinance in time for its Aug. 3 meeting, officials said.
Salvatore said that she is "glad that the mayor has finally seen the importance of this issue. The EDC recognized that blight was concerning Milford citizens some time ago."
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