Martone seeks enforcement of blight, aid for owners in need

Martone seeks enforcement of blight, aid for owners in need

NORTH PROVIDENCE – This town’s issues with blighted and abandoned properties could be addressed in multiple ways, says Town Councilor Mario Martone.

He is proposing both “a little more enforcement” in response to run-down properties, particularly if homes that are not occupied by their owners are the target, and the possible establishment of a loan fund using fines collected to help those who want to do a better job of maintaining their properties, but don’t have the resources to do so.

Martone said he noticed a number of properties not kept up to code or standard while campaigning last year, and such neglect has a significant impact on surrounding properties, affecting property values and the overall “temperature of the neighborhood.” The rest of the council agreed with his motion to send the measures to the public services committee for consideration.

Essentially, said Martone, a new program could penalize those who don’t care about doing the right thing while helping those who want to do the right thing. He acknowledged that this is a “big ask” with a lot of needed steps before it can go into effect. He asked that councilors simply begin to look at the issue and “put something together.”

Building Inspector Mike Carnevale does a great job, he said, but the town might be able to provide some better tools in this fight.

Mayor Charles Lombardi said he couldn’t agree more with Martone’s proposal. He said the town has owners of about a dozen or so properties scheduled to go to municipal court, and sometimes it feels like officials are “fighting everyone.” As the legal fights proceed, homes continue to deteriorate, making the issue worse, he said. Meanwhile, the person next door, who has their property “spin-shined,” has to suffer through the impacts of blight a few feet away, he said.

The town of late has been doing more cleaning up of properties and then placing liens on the owners, Lombardi said. Two people are now charged with citing properties, but even that is a process, as the town gives 10 days for work to be completed and the owners promise that the job will be done. For a property at Woodward Road and Mineral Spring Avenue, it’s been almost two years of trying to get cooperation, he said, and the person responsible is an attorney.

Councilor Manny Giusti mentioned another property on Sherwood Avenue that’s boarded up “and looks like a dump” after a fire. Lombardi noted that some properties are tied up in investigations, but Giusti then asked how long an investigation should take.

Lombardi said he agrees that this situation is frustrating and embarrassing, but also questioned why the town should have to tell people to clean up their properties. “Give me a break,” he said.

Councilor Dino Autiello commended Martone for the initiative, saying it’s a great idea.