NEWINGTON - The town is considering amending its zoning regulations to allow warning tickets to be issued to offenders.
That could include the owners of blighted property and business owners who violate signage rules, if the Town Council approves a resolution.
Town Attorney Ben Ancona and Zoning Enforcement Officer Mike D’Amato presented the proposal to councilors at the last meeting.
“It’s another tool to get zoning compliance,” Ancona explained. “This will expedite the process of enforcement.”
D’Amato circulates Newington to ensure regulations are being followed and issues zoning citations by a formal mailing process to offending parties. 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 exceedingly-tall grass.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Town Plan and 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 under 5 feet from a main entrance, less than 4 feet tall and removed after hours.
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 result.
Citations are sent by mail from D’Amato’s office in 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 this month. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.