Brasher looks to bolster property cleanup laws

BRASHER FALLS — Brasher officials are looking at local laws from towns that govern maintenance of private property, as they work toward adding to their own laws.

Town Supervisor Mark A. Peets said Code Enforcement Officer Robert Forbes had attended a recent meeting of other code officers and received local laws that had been enacted in 1998 in the towns of Louisville and Waddington.

“They pretty much say the same thing, some a little bit more wordy than others, but it gives the town the authority to give proper notice and to clean up,” he said during Monday’s Brasher Town Board meeting. “We do have that within our codes now. This is going to go a bit further. They kind of gave the town some backing to be able to not only tell people that they need to clean up their property, but if they don’t, there are certain fees and fines.”

In cases where the individuals ignored the warnings, the town had the authority to clean up the property and add the cost to the property’s tax bill.

“Hopefully, if somebody gets a notice... that they (clean up the property) within the time frame that Bob gives them. If not, then we as a town are able to enforce penalties and also clean up the property,” Mr. Peets said.

He said they won’t go out specifically looking for violations, but will note them when they’re seen.

“We don’t want to pick on anybody. Obviously, if anybody needs some help... maybe there’s some things we can do as a town to help out some folks a little bit,” he said. “If a person doesn’t want to do it, we’re going to do it for them and they’re going to get charged for it. Maybe that will be an incentive to keep their property up.”

Mr. Forbes would have the authority to determine if a property needed to be maintained, as would the town board, according to Mr. Peets. He said the town board, mayor or supervisor of a municipality could act in lieu of a town health officer.

“We don’t have a town health officer. We use St. Lawrence County. As far as this is concerned, we can say we don’t think this is safe,” he said.

Mr. Peets said that, since he has been on the board as a member and now supervisor, he’s seen a “handful of complaints,” and Mr. Forbes was familiar with some of them.

“It’s the same repeaters,” Mr. Forbes said.

Board member John M. Keenan said the issue had been brought up by the board several years ago. One of the questions at that time concerned individuals who lived down a desolate road with no other neighbors, and if they should be cited.

“You can’t pick and choose,” board member Sue Anne Hourihan said.

“You have to be consistent on how you’re going to apply it,” Mr. Peets said.

He asked board members to review the sample laws from Louisville and Waddington and make any changes necessary. The document would then be reviewed by town attorney Roger Linden and, once given the OK, the board could schedule a public hearing to take comments on the changes before enacting them.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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