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The Dirty Dozen: Derby Compiles Most Blighted List

by Eugene Driscoll | Jun 18, 2012 6:26 am

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Posted to: Derby

A dozen of the most blighted properties in Derby owe the city about $1.1 million in fines.

Whether the city will ever see any of that money remains to be seen, since many owners have simply “walked away” from the properties, city officials said.

Derby has a local blight law. The law’s intent is to address properties that pose a threat to the safety and quality of life of neighbors. Owners of properties on the blight list face fines of $100 per day.

At the request of the Board of Aldermen, the city’s two blight officers and building inspector David Kopjanski compiled a list of the most blighted properties in the city. They took into account the physical condition of the properties, neighborhood complaints, the lack of contact with owners and the length of time the properties have been on the blight list.

The goal was to give the Aldermen some type of priority list if elected officials want to foreclose on some of the properties, the “final hammer” of the city’s blight law, Kopjanski told the Valley Indy recently.

But foreclosure comes with its own set of costs for cash-strapped Derby. If the city takes over any of the properties, the city inherits the problems and costs connected repairing or tearing down the structures.

“With a lot of these properties, the owners have walked away and are unresponsive to the banks and the city,” said Alderman Ken Hughes. “But the problem is once you foreclose it on, you own it. Now the city is the responsible party.”

The following blighted properties are listed in the order of severity, with notes paraphrased from city documents:

1. 245 Francis St.

1. 245 Francis St.

Owes: $134,800

Blighted since: 7-29-2008

Notes: Formerly housed Castle Seltzer, Inc.

“Totally blighted,” power lines servicing the building removed . . . appears uninhabitable . . . neighboring business owners and residents are “distressed over this abandoned, blighted property.”

“One neighbor has complained to us that he feels that rodents, including rats, come from that property, causing a danger to his home.”

2. 196 Derby Ave.

2. 196 Derby Ave.

Owes: $70,900

Blighted since: 8-30-2010

Notes: Interior of house severely damaged by fire in March 2010. Click here for more information.

3. 189 Derby Ave.

3. 189 Derby Ave.

Owes: $122,500

Blighted since: 10-27-2008

Notes: An abandoned overgrown eyesore. Once put out to auction, according to city documents, but there were no buyers.

4. 105 Hawkins St.

4. 105 Hawkins St.

Owes: $94,100

Blighted since: Not available

Notes: Broken pipes caused interior of house to become filled with mold. The walls and ceilings are falling in. A neighbor can’t sell his house due to the poor condition of this property.

5. 310 Silver Hill Road

5. 310 Silver Hill Road

Owes: $86,000

Blighted since: 12-28-2009

Notes: “Totally blighted.”

Abandoned.

Open to outside elements, including animals.

“Attractive to vagrants.”

Trash and appliances in yard.

Barn on the property collapsed.

6. 67 Minerva St.

6. 67 Minerva St.

Owes: $43,000

Blighted since: 2-28-2011

Notes: “Partially demolished, remaining building is open to the public and is a danger to the neighborhood with the potential for people to be injured.” There were plans to redevelop the property last year.

7. 350 Derby Ave.

7. 350 Derby Ave.

Owes: $33,500

Blighted since: 6-6-2011

Notes: Foundation deteriorating, missing windows

8. 253 Roosevelt Drive

8. 253 Roosevelt Ave.

Owes: $33,500

Blighted since: 6-6-2011

Notes: Blighted with portions collapsing. Pieces of the building and glass occasionally fall to the sidewalk and grass.

9. 77 Minerva St.

9. 77 Minerva St.

Owes: $115,800

Blighted since: 4-6-2009

Notes: Numerous neighbor complaints . . . rear porches are dilapidated

10. 49 Marshall Lane

10. 49 Marshall Lane

Owes: $59,200

Blighted since: 9-23-2010

Notes: Lawn becoming overgrown, affecting neighboring property values

11. 105 Camptown Road

11. 105 Camptown Road

Owes: $43,400

Blighted since: 2-28-2011

Notes: Tree stuck in roof, trash in yard

12. 47 Hawkins St.

12. 47 Hawkins St.

Owes: $21,000 or $43,400

Blighted since: 6-6-2011

Notes: Foreclosed, abandoned. A bank has stepped in and started to clean up property, which is why there are two different dollar amounts for the blight lien.

The Google map below shows where the properties are in Derby.


View Derby’s Dirty Dozen in a larger map

There are an additional three residences that have people living in them on Hawkins Street, Clark Street and Caroline Street that also substantial blight liens as well.

Next Steps

The list above was briefly discussed at last month’s Board of Aldermen meeting.

It was also among the topics Tuesday of the Derby Community Relations Committee, a subcommittee of the Board of Aldermen.

“Some of the (subcommittee) members want to go out and look at these properties and possibly talk to some of the neighbors,” Kopjanski said of Tuesday’s meeting.

In addition, Derby corporation counsel Joseph Coppola explained the foreclosure process, should Derby Aldermen decide to take possession of any of the properties.

“He advised them of the responsibilities the city would have if the city owns the property,” Kopjanski said.

Alderman Art Gerckens said Derby is exploring its options.

“What to do with these properties is the big question,” Gerckens said. “Does the city have money to purchase them? Once we purchase them, do we have insurance for them? Once we purchase them, we own it and if something happens, the city is liable.”

Rescue Me

Another option on the table at the moment — publicize the list to drum up interest from the private sector.

“The city would sort of act like a middle man, almost as if we’re brokering a deal to get them off the blight list and fixed,” Gerckens said.

Kopjanski said many of the properties on the list are in a state of limbo.

Generally, the owners, holding large mortgages, have abandoned the properties and haven’t cooperated with Derby.

In addition to blight fines, the owners have the banks breathing down their neck, attempting to foreclose on the properties.

But bank foreclosures can drag on for months or years, Kopjanski said, because the banks aren’t exactly lining up to take responsibility for problem-plagued properties.

Publicizing the list could generate interest among private buyers or investors, who could then work out a deal with the lending institution holding the mortgage. In that scenario, the city doesn’t have any out-of-pocket costs.

“What you hope is that these properties somehow get rescued,” Kopjanski said. “Hopefully the list can attract potential home buyers, investors, who can then do some inquires on the property and possibly contact the owners or the lending institutions to come to some kind of agreement to transfer the titles.”

The person or business purchasing the property is still responsible for paying the city’s blight liens. But elected officials seem willing to negotiate if there’s a chance to see life breathed back into the eyesores.

“There are people who flip houses,” Hughes said. “If someone comes forward and expresses an interest in a property, perhaps the city can foreclose and then work out a deal where we transfer the title once fees are agreed upon.”

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Comment

posted by: Mary Lisi on July 2, 2012  2:46pm

The City of Derby needs to do something more proactive, rather than trying to get the private sector to “flip a house” the majority of these properties are so far gone, they need to be torn done. The lot should then be cleaned and sold, perhaps giving a deal to construction owners/workers to rebuild. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Trying to pass these eye sores to the private sector will only make more of a mess. On a whole, Derby has way to many blighted buildings, ( I can think of 15 more that are not shown above) doing nothing and taking the easy way out is not the answer. There are thousands of newly graduated business majors in Ct, hire some of them that want to get into real estate development, hear what they have to say.

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