SHELTON — Better enforcement of residential “nuisance” violations, criticism and praise for downtown traffic improvements, and downtown beautification to support retailers.
Those were among the hot topics discussed Wednesday night at the City of Shelton’s first Shelton Outloud community forum, which city officials said would become an annual event.
About 60 residents joined city officials at Shelton Civic Center to voice their opinions on city issues and get educated on city matters and services.
Several neighbors complained about a home on Mason Street that they said was violating the city nuisance code with people living in trailers outside a home, junk cars and garbage in the yard.
“This is the first year that we’ve had rats on our property,” said Tari Hedstrom, next-door neighbor to the home she called a “drug house” with hypodermic needles in the back yard.
Hedstrom presented photos of the property to Police Chief Darrin Moody, whose department is now working with the city’s Department of Community Development.
Another neighbor said “this has got to stop.”
“I 100 percent agree with you,” Moody said, explaining that the city has to go through an eviction process to legally get rid of the people living on private properties. The police chief said officers could not just enter a property and tell people to leave.
People associated with the home are “fighting and yelling” at all hours of the night, she said.
She presented photos of the property to Moody, who vowed to help the process along.
Others said they were happy that the city was stepping up enforcement and cleanup of derelict residential properties.
On a lighter note, one resident asked how many chickens could a resident have on a property.
Moody said by city law chickens were not allowed on a property, but if a homeowner houses three in a pen and neighbors do not complain then it would not become an issue.
However, Moody said allowing a number of chickens to roam freely in a neighborhood was likely to result in complaints that a city code enforcement officer would have to address.
Using click pads, the audience was allowed to vote on multiple choice questions with instance electronic results. One question: “How aggressive would you like the city to be in enforcing nuisance violations?”
The question drew 42 votes for issuing a warning first and seeking “reasonable voluntary compliance, followed by fines if noncompliant.” Five said they wanted a warning only seeking voluntary compliance and one called for fines first, then prosecution if noncompliant.
Addressing a resident’s question, Public Works Director Craig Gregory said the city’s goal is to pave about 20 blocks a year.
Another resident asked the city to place more garbage receptacles around the city besides just downtown.
Gregory said the biggest concentration of receptacles were where the population was most concentrated but the city could rethink the number of receptacles.
Some residents were critical of city traffic changes downtown, especially the removal of a stoplight at 4th Street and Railroad Avenue, which they said made it more difficult to cross Railroad.
More flashing warning lights at crosswalks were also supported by residents.
Shelly Barnett, owner of Off the Walls Gallery & Gifts on Railroad Avenue downtown, urged the city to seek grants to beautify downtown, including on Cota Avenue leading to City Hall.
“Downtown needs to look thriving and exciting,” Barnett said, adding that she wanted more business support from the city.