HIGHLAND | With more vacant businesses, and some houses, not being properly maintained, town officials are looking to crack down.
The Town Council on Monday approved a new property maintenance ordinance with more teeth than the previous regulation.
"They were recommendations made from the Redevelopment Commission," Building Commissioner Ken Mika said.
The revised ordinance adds three parts to the old one, Mika said.
The first gives the town authority to control the staging areas used by contractors for construction projects to store equipment and materials.
The second says that owners of vacant business buildings can no longer board up broken windows on a permanent basis.
"The problem is that they still remain boarded up," Mika said.
The third section requires stumps to be removed or ground after trees are cut down. The ground in that area also must be seeded or planted with sod.
"We believe in the broken (windows) theory,'" Police Chief Pete Hojnicki said.
The theory says that one broken window left in a building will eventually lead to all of them being broken, he said.
Redevelopment Commission Chairman Michael Maloney said many vacant properties, especially car dealerships, have boarded-up windows.
"The existing ordinance was not sufficient enough," he said.
With a dozen redevelopment projects under way through town, the eyesores are counterproductive, Maloney said.
"This, to us, is a drag," he said.
Redevelopment Director Cecile Petro said the commission was responding to many residential complaints about the vacant buildings. While the commission focuses on commerce, the complaints also included housing — a section that was retained from the old ordinance.
The fines associated with infractions can range from $50 to $500 per day, Mika said.
"It was really kind of a collaboration effort," Clerk-Treasurer Michael Griffin said. "I think they did a good job."
In other business, the council approved another ordinance revision to allow alcohol to be served at special events at Lincoln Center.
The revision will expire Dec. 31, 2013, unless the council extends it.
The vote was 3-2 with Councilman Konnie Kuiper, D-2nd, and Council Vice President Dan Vassar, D-3rd, voting no.
"(We'll) have more people who will want to rent our facility," said Councilman Mark Herak, I-2nd.
The caterers will have their own liquor licenses and portable bar, and all alcohol must be out of the building when the event is over, Herak said.
The event sponsors will pay for off-duty Highland police as security, and each event must be approved by the Park Board.