Friday, October 14, 2011

Town should stick to its guns

Several months ago, the Berlin Mayor and Council, at the instigation of Councilwoman Paula Lynch decided to add a measure against boarded up houses to their general agenda of improving the town’s image through additional enforcement options.
Throughout the discussion Mayor Gee Williams has been clear that these new and adjusted rules were targeted at the few properties that might be gateways to blight and not a means to overburden property owners.
This week when a property owner showed up to challenge the plan to ban the boarding of houses the Council appeared to consider backing down. The council however would do well to stay on course.
If the point of the legislation is to force property owners to better maintain their buildings, building in a loophole that leaves improvements to their discretion is counter to the general improvement they are seeking.
Williams said the town doesn’t want to be too heavy-handed in their enforcement and made it clear that the town didn’t want to overburden property owners with expense. But the Council should be reminded that nothing brings blight to a town so much as the lack of political will to require everyone to do their part when it comes to property maintenance.
This is precisely the fight the administration signed up for when it pledged to go after the very few properties in town that were poorly maintained. It would be a shame to see them give that fight up as soon as it began.


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