||155 Deer Hill Avenue
Danbury, CT 06810
Listing files in 'Neighborhood Services'
Preserving the quality and character of Danbury’s neighborhoods is a top priority for the Office of Neighborhood Assistance. As a result, Mayor Mark Boughton created this department, which oversees the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team (UNIT) and the CityLine 311 information line.
The UNIT has become the state’s model in combating Health, Housing, Zoning and Fire code violations. The UNIT is responsible for resolving various neighborhood concerns ranging from illegal apartments, blight, parking violations, neighborhood nuisances and overcrowded, unsafe living conditions. Additionally, the UNIT partners with the Danbury Police Department to issue tickets for parking violations, as well as removing any abandoned or unregistered motor vehicle parked on city streets.
The team focuses on blight remediation, code compliance, safety and quality of life issues and strives to enhance Danbury’s position as a premier place to live, work, and raise a family.
Danbury’s residents take pride in the preservation of their neighborhoods; therefore it is essential for our team to respond quickly and efficiently to their concerns. The UNIT responds to every concern brought before the team and will work diligently to resolve the issue. This may include referring those matters to the responsible departments within City Hall, or assisting the residents and explaining to them what actions they may need to take to further pursue resolution.
It is a common practice for the Office of Neighborhood Assistance to follow up and give updates and timeframes to Danbury’s residents that alert the UNIT of their concerns. In cases where residents are hesitant to provide their name and contact information when submitting a complaint, updates are available by contacting Danbury’s 311 representative. As a result of being proactive and following up, our department continues to receive positive feedback and gratitude from the residents. We appreciate their support in helping to maintain and improve the quality of life for all residents of Danbury.
The UNIT performs A.C.T.I.O.N. (Active Commitment Towards Improving Our Neighborhoods) on a routine basis. This is a method in which the UNIT patrols Danbury’s neighborhoods and performs visual inspections on properties, as well as interacts with the residents to ensure that quality of life issues are being maintained. Over the last year, incredibly nearly 40% of all UNIT activity was a direct result of ACTION.
Last year, our department initiated partnering with the State’s Attorney office and the Danbury Police by being assigned individuals that needed to complete community service as a result of their transgressions. Additionally, our department also recruited and coordinated volunteer work groups to perform several cleanup projects around the city of Danbury. Various projects like trash/litter cleanup, removing unsightly graffiti from bridges and buildings, and cleanup projects alongside the Still River and wooded hillsides prone to unlawful dumping were completed by these groups. As one of the largest cities in the state, the UNIT is proud of its continual effort to maintain Danbury as a clean and graffiti free community. The UNIT prides itself on its proactive, relentless pursuit of preserving our neighborhoods and our community and we are very grateful for their efforts, as the results speak for themselves.
Additionally, the UNIT hosts neighborhood meetings for our residents. These meetings, which include Mayor Mark Boughton, focus on quality of life topics that residents wish to speak about within their neighborhood. Furthermore, Danbury’s residents are educated about community standards of health, blight and safety, as well as zoning rules and regulations. After these meetings are held, the UNIT will then follow up by performing inspections in these specific neighborhoods and work with property owners and residents to resolve any quality of life issues.
In 2013, the UNIT handled nearly 1000 quality of life issues. As a result of UNIT intervention, over 300 blighted properties littered with debris were cleaned up. These issues are an eyesore that bring the neighborhood down and are prone to foul odors and rodent infestation as well. Our department enforces that property owners and tenants keep their properties clean and our follow up inspections ensure that they are being maintained. With the economic challenges over the past few years, there continues to be an issue with abandoned and foreclosed homes. This creates concern in the neighborhoods as lawns do not get maintained, debris is often left outside and in some cases, these properties are not secure and are subject to criminal mischief activity. Our department has achieved must success by involving lenders, real estate agencies and property preservation companies to ensure that these properties are secure and maintained. It is important to address these issues as quickly as possible.
The UNIT also inspects properties subject to illegal, overcrowded and/or unsafe occupancy. Overcrowded apartments can compromise the safety of the tenants that live in these types of situations. Often, tenants are found living in unapproved and unsafe spaces. Areas, such as basements and attics, are common locations for these precarious conditions. In most cases, temperature control is lacking, extension cords are unsafely rampant throughout the home and most importantly, there is a lack of adequate sized windows to escape in case of a fire emergency. Of the properties inspected by our department over the last few years, there is no way of measuring the lives that have potentially been saved as a result of the UNIT’s unwavering commitment to eliminate these unsafe living conditions.
Near the end of 2012, Danbury’s City Council passed an enhanced version of an Exterior Blight Ordinance (Section 10-99 through 10-106), which provides our department with stronger enforcement authority to curb blighted properties within our community. Properties owners who are non-compliant to this ordinance would be issued orders and given thirty days to remediate the issue or would be subject to daily fines of $100. While assessing fines is not the goal of our department, it is clearly a motivating factor for property owners to bring the issue to compliance right away. In 2013, the UNIT has had outstanding success utilizing this enforcement tool, as nearly 30 orders were sent to property owners for various issues of blight; many of these being problems/neighbor complaints that had been long standing. The enforcement of this blight ordinance has had a substantial impact in our city. The quality of life in our neighborhoods has been improved, as well as the safety of our residents. Even more significant, is that these improvements have had an immediate impact on the property values of surrounding homes, which is one of the key economic factors for a healthy city. We are proud to share that as a result of these Exterior Blight orders sent by our department, properties have been cleaned up, secured, inoperable vehicles removed, painted, landscaped and even demolished. Currently, our department is in the works to seek approval to add structural blight to our enforcement authority. Given this, our department is poised to implement positive change to the landscape of many neighborhoods.
Our department has become the model of “one-stop shopping”, as residents can submit a complaint regarding any matter of concern and it will be appropriately addressed. The UNIT’s most notable accomplishments are measured everyday as our department works feverishly to preserve and maintain the quality of life in Danbury. Each resolved issue equals a small, individual success resulting in the overall positive appearance of Danbury’s neighborhoods. We pride ourself on our quick response, professional service and appropriate follow up to the concerns of the residents of Danbury.
Downtown District UNIT:
The City of Danbury’s Downtown UNIT department is charged with the well being of the Downtown Revitalization Zone (DRZ) and related urban districts. The Downtown UNIT works closely with all City entities and focuses relations with groups such as CityCenter, Main St. Partnership, Downtown Safety Initiative, Spring Street Neighborhood Association and many non-profits, bridging the gap between private and public sectors. These initiatives ensure that Danbury’s downtown will continue to be a vibrant and safe urban core for the foreseeable future.
Cooperation from our Police, Fire, Public Works, Health, Welfare, and Zoning departments has enabled the UNIT to have a critical impact in the City’s ability to provide a safe and business friendly environment to the City’s urban core. The enforcement of code has shared its effectiveness with boots on the ground, old fashion social work. The Downtown UNIT has become very adapt at reaching all personalities in the downtown and linking problems with solutions. The lines of communication have opened when varying groups from different public and private sectors are working towards the same solution with the Downtown UNIT taking the lead. Out of the box innovative approaches has lead to a new attitude of frank discussion on very real and difficult issues such as:
From these programs and think tanks, new proactive ideas have sprung up to combat these urban core social issues:
- Development of the Spring Street Neighborhood Association. This association has led to an awakening of one of Danbury’s Oldest and proudest neighborhoods. The neighborhood association has raised awareness of safety and quality of life issues holding several neighborhood meetings, Saturday plantings and a viable neighborhood watch.
- Community Service for repeat offenders in the DRZ (panhandling, public drinking, graffiti)
- Revolving Door Meetings: These gatherings have brought the brightest and most influential decision makers to real time actions and solutions now. Some of these people are Danbury Hospital Department Head of Psychiatry, Director of CityCenter, Police, Lawmakers, and non profits.
- Broken Windows Principal: Assistant District Attorney Judith Decine has added proven efforts from other municipalities to our broken windows approach. The theory being that areas tend to stay clean when kept clean and unkempt when kept unkempt. If we do not fix that first broken window, then there will be two, and then three and so on. This principle works only when all departments and areas of impact work together to achieve a common goal.
- Second Chance Stars Program: In conjunction with our City Shelter and Welfare department we have developed a program for our disenfranchised to “put me in coach” and contribute by getting them a job.
- Attitude/Passion: The urban core is on the move with one of the country’s best apartment developers, new Kennedy Park, new infrastructure and the passion to be the best. Danbury will strive to be the finest urban city core in the State clean, safe and innovative.
In addition we continue our brand of umbrella code enforcement pertaining to illegal construction, illegal apartments, sidewalk enforcement, clean communities ordinance, entertainment license protocol and the overall well being of our city. The Downtown UNIT also couples with the UNIT to give our entire municipality the most effective and active department of its kind. We have always been the statewide leader in innovative hybrid approaches to problem solving and 2014 will be the most innovative thus far. Our department is proud to be of service to our citizens and will continue to keep Danbury the best city to live, work and be educated.