Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn Addresses Blight Properties in Town
Awhile back, I did an article that highlighted some of the vacant properties of Brookfield, CT. Some applauded the article and others I'm told were fuming mad. How dare I take pictures of what is staring us in the face everyday?
What I was missing in that article was a perspective from Brookfield leadership, what did they think of the properties in town that have gone without care? We got that perspective yesterday (6/9/21) when Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn joined the Ethan and Lou Show.
I asked Dunn if he was mad at me over the article. I'd heard someone in town was and wanted to know what he thought, this is what he had to say:
"I wasn't mad, I just thought you got half the story."
It's at this point I took a shot at myself and noted, I'm not sure I got any of the story but Dunn disagreed, saying:
"You listed every single one of them, you obviously spent a lot of time taking pictures, right? So, five years ago we recognized this problem and I think it was exacerbated by the fact that we have new development in the downtown, you know Brookfield Village has really nice buildings.
People are fixing things up and so the dichotomy, the difference between building that hadn't had any work done on them and the new buildings really evidenced the fact that there was blight in my opinion. So, we went and said to these people, hey we need you to clean this up and guess what our blight law said we could do back then, five years ago?"
I answered, "nothing," and I was correct so Dunn continued:
"Only if it's health and safety related. So, we went through the process, we created a new ordinance and the new ordinance allows us to declare a property blighted if it is lowering the value of neighboring properties."
He went on to say that the town has sighted approximately 20 properties with the new blight rules but made clear the Town takes no joy in the process, saying:
"We don't want to fine people, we just want you to fix the property up."
Two of the the roughly 20 properties sighted have been ordered demolished while most are working towards compliance or are now in compliance.
According to notes obtained from Dunn, 20 Station Road and 846 Federal Road are the properties that have been ordered demolished.
Dunn later sent us an email saying:
"Fixing blight is a difficult thing to do. The State leans heavily towards property owner’s rights so the town has to go through some very heavy lifting legally to both respect those owners’ rights while at the same time getting these properties rehabilitated. The process can take years in the worst cases. Our goal is to always get the properties to an unblighted condition without having to resort to fines or other legal actions but many times that is not possible."
The panel notes related to blight and the minutes of meetings with blight properties on the agenda are all matter of public record that can be obtained on the Town's website.
You can listen to out entire interview with Steve Dunn in the video player at the top of the page. Aside from vacant properties, we discussed Brookfield's amazing streetscape project, the upcoming demolition of J.Ramen, and what it means for local commuters.