Council Passes Rental Inspection Ordinance

Thursday, May 9, 2013
By Cary Shuman

The Town Council public safety committee voted by a 2-1 margin in favor of a rental inspection ordinance, advancing it to the next stop in the process which is the rules and ordinance committee.

Councilor-at-Large Larry Powers and Councilor Linda Calla voted in favor of the measure while Councilor-at-Large Philip Boncore voted against it.

Interestingly, Boncore is the chairman of the rules and ordinance committee that will be charged with reviewing the ordinance for possible advancement to the Council for a vote.

Boncore, an attorney with many years of experience in housing issues, felt the ordinance was too intrusive to property owners and that the town should not be telling them what to do with their properties.

Police Chief Terence Delehanty vigorously supports passage of the ordinance that would allow Board of Health, Fire Department, and Building Department officials to inspect rental units when they are vacant. Those inspections would take place no more than once a year and no less than once every five years.

During those inspections, health inspectors would look at whether sanitation codes are being adhered to in the apartments while fire officials would determine whether fire detectors and fire alarms are functioning properly and that access to exits is unimpeded, in addition to other safety concerns.

“I respect Councilor Boncore’s opinion and I believe he respects my opinion, but this is something that we’re simply not going to agree on,” said Delehanty. “We both are on different spectrums on this particular matter.”

Delehanty considers the rental inspection ordinance “a very important public safety need.”

“I can’t be sending police officers into [uninspected properties] and Chief Paul Flanagan is not going to send firefighters into fire traps,” said Delehanty. “And we have to have a good conscience and go home and put our head on the pillow at night and know that our officers and firefighters are safe.”

Delehanty is asking for support from the public

“to convince the rules and ordinance committee that this is the appropriate ordinance to enact in our community.”

The next meeting of the rules and ordinance committee is June 11. “I need people to show up and those who have signed petitions to come to this meeting so I’m not there speaking alone,” said Delehanty.

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