City steps in to fix eyesore home in New Haven - WFSB 3 Connecticut

City steps in to fix eyesore home in New Haven


One property in New Haven has become an eyesore for the neighborhood and a magnet for crime, which is leading the city to step in. 

A partially built steel and plywood structure sits among the row of houses on Lewis Street, and it's upsetting residents.

"It's been sitting like this for six or seven years," said Matthew Breisch, of New Haven.

Breisch said the structure itself and the building supplies around it are bad enough, but the blight is attracting crime here as well.

"There's nothing across the street from it except for this giant retaining wall, and because there's no, basically no eyes on the street here, the prostitutes come and park here all the time and drug deals happen here," Breisch said.

Eyewitness News went a few blocks over to track down property owner Keith Johnson; however, he was not home. 

His next door neighbor told Eyewitness News Johnson is trying to build his dream home on Lewis Street but keeps running into road blocks.

"Keith has just been, well I hate to say it, maybe a little slow in developing it," said Bill Briscoe, who is the property owner's neighbor. "But he's been running into obstacles left and right with the city. And you can only move as fast as the city will let ya."

So, Eyewitness News went to City Hall to figure out the problem.

"The building still has an active building permit on it," said Livable City Initiative Executive Director Erik Johnson. "But it appears Mr. Johnson doesn't have the resources or the means to try and complete the property."

Johnson enforces the blight ordinance and said the city issued a warning on the property just before winter and then a formal citation on April 15 when nothing was done by the spring.

Now, until Johnson brings the property up to code, he's being fined $100 a day.

"It's always a hard balance with property owners have rights, and people have rights to do things and we live in a city and town where we want everyone to be able to build their dream house," Johnson, said. "Sometimes when that doesn't happen, that dream house can become a neighbor's nightmare."

Johnson said if nothing is done in 90 days, the city will move to foreclose by the middle of July.

But he said he is hoping it doesn't come to that and says the fines are really meant to push a property owner to take action.

Neighbors said that's what they've been waiting years to see.

"I've been pushing with the city, we call them all the time, they all know who we are by name because of this down at the town," Breisch said. "So at this point I just have to relax, take a breath and hope something happens at this point."

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