Lynch Seek Eyesore Crackdown

BERLIN – The town of Berlin will explore ordinances to regulate how long unused houses are allowed to sit unoccupied and boarded up.

At this week’s Mayor and Cuncil meeting, Councilwoman Paula Lynch raised questions over a house that has been boarded up for almost a decade after the death of the owner.

Under current town laws, houses may remain boarded up essentially forever, said attorney Dave Gaskill, as long as the outside and the yard are maintained.

Staff has discussed changing the regulations on such unoccupied homes, Planning and Zoning Director Chuck Ward said. The challenge is to create more specific rules without putting a greater burden on the property owner.

“You can’t regulate people but you can make regulations more strict,” said Ward. “You can add more to the code than we certainly have.”

Currently, an unoccupied structure must be secured and protected against unwanted entry, Ward said.

Lynch asked that staff look into ways to prevent houses sitting empty long term. “It’s a blight,” Lynch said.