Zoning offenders may soon face warning tickets

Published on Wednesday, 20 December 2017 14:38
Written by Erica Schmitt

Staff Writer

NEWINGTON - The town is considering amending its zoning regulations to allow warning tickets to be issued to offenders.

That could include the proprietors of blighted property and business owners who violate sign-age rules, if the Town Council approves a resolution on the table.

Town Attorney Ben Ancona and Zoning Enforcement Officer Mike D’Amato presented the proposal to councilors at their last meeting.

“It’s another tool to get zoning compliance,” Ancona explained. “This will ex-pedite the process of enforcement.”

D’Amato goes around Newington to ensure that regulations are being followed and issues zoning citations by a formal mailing process.

There is a wide range of offenses, which can occur in commercial, industrial and residential zones.

The town’s blight ordinance, for example, prohibits the parking of unregistered vehicles on residential property, broken windows and exceedinglytall grass.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Town Plan & Zoning commission recently enforced new rules governing temporary signs. These are used frequently by businesses to advertise sales and special events. Limited to the A-frame variety, they must be less than five feet from a main entrance, less than four feet tall and removed after-hours.

Currently, when D’Amato identifies violations he issues a warning. Repeat offenses warrant a citation, which requires the problem be fixed by a set deadline before fines and further legal action results. Citations are sent by mail from D’Amato’s office in Newington Town Hall.

“The intention is to shorten the time frame,” he said.

The amended rules would allow him to hand out a ticket with a fine attached after the initial warning has gone unheeded.

Zoning tickets would be similar to those placed on illegally parked vehicles.

According to Ancona, the proposal came from the TPZ as a follow-up to its new sign regulations.

“In particular, this will help to address the growing temporary sign issue,” he told the council.

“In the time it takes for a citation to go out signs tend to multiply. Then you have a 72-hour period to take the sign down when you reoffend, so too often the sign goes back up. In all seriousness, the goal is compliance, not to issue tickets.”

Some councilors were wary of the proposal, which will be discussed again in the New Year. They fear that it tightens reins on the local business community and discourages economic development.

Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or eschmitt@centralctcommunications.com.

Posted in Newington Town Crier, Newington News on Wednesday, 20 December 2017 14:38. Updated: Wednesday, 20 December 2017 14:40.