A persistent problem?
And, a very costly one for taxpayers! In the past 4 years Rockingham has spent over $155,000 demolishing blighted structures.
Late last summer the Rockingham Selectboard reached out to the Planning Commission for a possible solution to blighted and nuisance properties in the town.
Supported by Zoning and Planning Commissioner Chuck Wise, a working group, consisting of Deb Wright, Myles Mickle and Bonnie North, began developing this draft proposal in the fall of 2018. Meeting weekly for nearly 8 months, they researched how other Vermont towns have dealt with this, and had consultations with the Rockingham Economic Development Director, the Bellows Falls Fire Chief, Bellows Falls Police Officer Paulette, Attorneys Ray Massucco and Steve Ankuda, a licensed structural engineer, and the Town Listers. You can download the draft they are presenting here.
This is not intended to be a “beautification regulation”. Instead it is an attempt to address the most egregious examples of property neglect and landlord irresponsibility. The ordinance examines general nuisances, blighted structures, unsafe (structurally unsound) buildings, and vacant buildings. It goes into detail defining these specific categories. The ordinance broadens and defines the enforcement and administration to include the various police/fire departments, as well as the town health officer and deputy health officer. Saxtons River, Bellows Falls, and Rockingham will have their own staff administering the ordinance. Elected officials from either of the incorporated villages, or the town, will each handle their own appeals process.
It must be approved by the Rockingham Selectboard, the Bellows Falls Village Trustees and the Saxtons River Trustees before it becomes a legal ordinance.
Now the process of community outreach begins!
We will be hosting citizen meetings to discuss this proposal in the upcoming months. We welcome every citizen’s input as we further refine and adjust this draft. You can download a pdf of it here - or contact the Zoning Office and request a copy be mailed/emailed directly to you: Assistant Town Planner Joan Harlow (802.463.1229 ext. 1101 / firstname.lastname@example.org)
Everyone is also always welcome to attend our regular Planning meetings, held on the 4th Thursday evening at 6:30 each month.