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Framingham aims to clean up and crack down in neighborhoods

A new Unified Code Enforcement Task Force consisting of fire, police, public works, building and health agents are pulling together to create a team approach for cleaning up the Framingham community. The group will focus on conducting field inspections and enforcing bylaws. The goal is to improve the quality of life and decrease fear and disorder in its neighborhoods. The assistant district attorney's office and Framingham District Court are also on board. Their first order of business? A walking tour of downtown.

The Framingham task force is modeling their program on what we've done with our zoning bylaws and code enforcement tools here in Worcester. They plan to implement municipal liens, vacant and foreclosed property bylaws, and registration and inspection bylaws. The lien fund would allow the town to hire a contractor to clean up distressed properties where the owners have repeatedly ignored orders to fix code violations. The city could then place a lien on that property to recover its expenses.

The task force will meet twice a month while they try to get the landlords and tenants to comply. The new town manager starts the first Monday in June, and the task force is hoping for buy-in from the top city official. They know how frustrating it has been for residents in the downtown neighborhoods.

The task force is also teaming up with local state legislators to urge the state to create a dedicated housing court in Framingham - much like a traffic court - to deal with repeat bylaw offenders and enforce the new codes.

Source: metrowestdailnews.com, "Framingham task force targets slumlords, problem properties," Danielle Ameden, May 12, 2012

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