The Norwalk City Council has unanimously passed an ordinance to begin improving the city's overall appearance by removing abandoned vehicles and other unsightly debris.
The ordinance also directs that the director of planning and the Board of Administration Review be replaced with a 5-member Property Maintenance and Building Rehabilitation Appeals Board. The new appeals board will be composed of members of the Planning Commission.
The board will be responsible for hearing and deciding on complaints against commercial or private residents who have failed to clean up their property. Property owners also will have the right to request a hearing by the board if they have any disagreements with orders or complaints about their property.
"This assortment of changes will make great strides in cleaning up neighborhoods and building the spirit of Norwalk," City Manager Richard Powers said. The 3-phase project, which will be implemented early next year, is completely new to the city, he said.
The first phase will be a 2-month survey through each of the city's 11 neighborhoods to identify problems. Homeowners will be notified of their debris and be asked to clean it up on a voluntary basis. Three property maintenance inspectors will conduct the survey.
The city's Mr. Sun Program will begin the second phase, assisting residents to clean up their neighborhoods by loaning tools and paint or providing dumpsters for debris. If residents do not comply voluntarily, the third phase will be disciplinary action, in which complaints will be brought before the board and, if necessary, forwarded to the city attorney's office, which will serve as city prosecutor.
"It's a very aggressive form of saving Norwalk neighborhoods," Powers said.
During the plan's developing stages, 2,400 houses in "better Norwalk neighborhoods" were surveyed. Powers said 1,100 of those had "relatively serious code violations."