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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Kapiti in New Zealand

    Default Do You Own Your Own Home In Bristol?


    Don’t you think it is about time you understood exactly what your city council will be voting on September 14th?

    A few select people took months to develop an updated Housing Code Ordinance that can directly affect you, your family, your property, your neighbors and your community. Although lengthy and mostly filled with good, necessary sections, these are a few sections that can be damaging and are NOT related to “public health, safety or welfare” as the intention of the ordinance states. Read this and ask yourself if it could affect your home, family, property and how it relates to the “public health, safety or welfare.”

    “This code is intended to protect, preserve and promote public health, safety and welfare…
    ANY violation is specifically declared to “constitute public nuisances.”

    12-3 A. SCOPE OF PROVISIONS. “This code shall apply uniformly to ALL premises now in existence and includes ALL dwellings including ONE and two family dwellings.”

    12-5 A. OTHER CODES. “This code shall apply to “ALL existing premises…irrespective of when or under what code such premises were originally constructed, rehabilitated or maintained.”

    12-14 CLOSET SPACE. “Every dwelling unit shall have at least four sq ft of floor to ceiling height closet space for … each permissible occupant. If the closet space is lacking…an amount of space equal in sq footage to the deficiency shall be subtracted from the area of space used in determining permissible occupancy.”

    12-24 B. SURFACE STANDARDS. “All exterior wood surfaces… shall be protected from the elements by approved protective covering.. Such covering shall be compatible with the existing covering.”

    <”compatible” with whose standard? This unilaterally removes the property owner’s right to decide what can be done to the exterior of the owner’s house>

    12-30 SPACE AND DENSITY. A. (1) “The maximum permissible occupancy of ANY dwelling shall be equal to or less than the number of the habitable rooms within the dwelling.”

    <NOT INCLUDED in counting “habitable rooms” are: bathrooms, laundry rooms, recreation or basement rooms, attic rooms, mud rooms, etc. This is blatant discrimination against families and designed to “stop overcrowding and over populating Bristol schools.” It is also indirectly aimed at low income families since many have more than 2.2 children. HUD is a Federal Program that puts money into communities for those people who simply need some help through a difficult time and most often have a working parent, elderly or disabled person. When these families apply for houses or housing and go through a screening process like everyone else, they must be working and pass all criteria. There is a Federal Law against anyone discriminating for this reason. The Federal government sued AND WON a judgment against the town of Milford for its blatant discrimination against HUD families owning their own “scattered” houses. See “United States of America, Plaintiff, VS Housing Authority Of The Town Of Milford and City Of Milford.” Section 12-30 would mean that a mother and baby could not be able to share an efficiency apartment (allowed under federal law, HUD and DCYS); i.e. 5 room single family house w/ 3 brs - there cannot be 4 children or even 3 children and Gramma along with 2 parents, etc.>

    12-30 B. “every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant shall contain at least seventy sq ft of floor space…and shall contain at least fifty sq ft for each additional occupant thereof.”

    <Long the standard, this now would change if there are sloping ceilings or not enough closet space or basement, that space would be deducted from this standard>

    12-30 C. “The ceiling height of any habitable room shall be at least seven feet except that in any habitable room under a sloping ceiling, at least one half of the floor area shall have a height of at least seven feet…where the ceiling is less than five feet, shall not be considered as part of the floor area…for determining …permissible occupancy.”

    <If older housing with all 6’8” ceiling, house would be illegal to live in; if a room or apartment with all sloping ceilings which passed code inspection last month or last year, would not be declared uninhabitable… unfit… and then it goes on your Land Records>

    12-31 A. “No cellar space shall be used as a dwelling unit.”

    12-31 D. “The room and floor area of cellar space used as a habitable room shall not be considered for the purpose of determining occupancy.”

    12-37 E. Every window or opening shall be supplied with SCREENS FIXED TO FRAME..”

    <extended screens such as bought at local hardware stores would be illegal to use in Bristol>

    12-54 D .“Fines in any case shall not exceed $600 per day…” <where would this money go?>

    12-56 C. “Whenever any tenant is displaced as the result of violation of any code, the owner.. shall be liable for any payments…town may place a lien on property to reimburse the town.. for any displaced tenant…”

    < This would give tenants legal weapons to use against already restricted landlords. What if the tenant caused the code to be violated, trashed the house? Change is very simple: make the violator of the code responsible>

    12-56 I. “Whenever any premises has been designated as unfit, such order shall be filed with the City Clerk for inclusion in the LAND RECORDS of the town.”

    <regardless of how or when it became unfit, why and by whom, a violation would forever be on the deed of that property and affect the sale value of the house in the future even after house has been rehabbed – why bother then?>

    You are cordially invited on September 6th at 6 p.m. to a meeting in City Hall Council Chambers

    hosted by the GBPOA to explain the impact of this ordinance and what it can mean to you as a Home Owner. Bristol needs a good ordinance but not at the expense of families (including step and foster families, families with elderly needing caregivers), lower income families or one that holds your home hostage to the unknown qualifications and inspection of a few. We have a copy of the ordinance, you can get one at the city clerk.

    Below are the names and numbers of Bristol’s City Council. Please don’t be quiet on this issue. Call them now, ask questions and insist, as your elected representatives, that they vote AGAINST this ordinance until changes are made so there is no leeway to turn it into a modern day witch hunt. Leave messages if necessary. Email them as well with your name and address and please copy us at [email protected]. If this ordinance is passed without changes, send a message to the council when you vote in November.

    Mayor Gerard Couture 860-584-6250
    [email protected]

    Art Ward 860-589-4838
    [email protected]

    Ron Burns 860-584-1035
    [email protected]

    Tom Lavigne 860-584-0443
    [email protected]

    Ellen Zoppo 860-585-6696
    [email protected]

    Craig Minor 860-582-1061
    [email protected]

    Anthony Savino 860-314-0592
    [email protected]

    The association that looks out for ALL property owners and keeps them informed
    Member, Greater Bristol Chamber of Commerce since 1996
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