HOPKINTON — Members of the Town Council have agreed on a draft ordinance that would give the town the authority to require owners of abandoned properties to maintain them or face fines.
Council President Frank Landolfi introduced the proposed ordinance at the Monday meeting.
“The purpose of this ordinance is to protect residential, commercial, manufacturing, industrial and mixed use real property in the town of Hopkinton from being blighted as a result of inadequate maintenance and lack of security by vacant and or abandoned properties and to strengthen the town’s ability to respond to nuisance and or hazardous properties to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents,” he said.
Abandoned properties, the status of which will be determined by zoning official Sherri Desjardins, will be entered into a new database and a written notice will be sent to the owner, who will be required to register the property within 30 days. The registration fees will be $100 for the first year, $200 for the second year and $300 for the third year. The fine for failing to register is $500.
Town Manager William McGarry worked on the ordinance with Desjardins and Town Solicitor Kevin McAllister.
“In the past what we’ve done is we’ve begged, borrowed and asked them to clean up their properties,” he told the council. “Sometimes we’ve been successful and other times we haven’t. We’ve had to ask, because we had no enforcement provisions available to us.”
In an interview before the council meeting, Landolfi said the town had been receiving complaints about several abandoned properties, most of them the consequences of foreclosures.
“We just had a few incidents where the property just wasn’t being maintained, so we had to reach out to the servicing companies and potentially lien the property just so we can get the damn grass cut,” he said. “This whole thing stems from foreclosures and short sales that were abandoned because of troubles some folks had.”
The council will vote on the ordinance at its next meeting, Dec. 18.
In other business, the council approved the transfers of liquor, victualing and holiday sales licenses from the former Pavilion steak house on Frontier Road to ABK, LLC, owner of Boneyard Barbeque restaurants. ABK closed on the property, formerly owned by Hopkinton businessman Raymond Quinlan, on Nov. 29.
Boneyard Barbeque is a small franchise with two other restaurants in Warwick and Seekonk, Mass.
Company principals William Beggs and Carnig Ashchian, represented by attorney Frank Manni, said they expected to have their new restaurant open in time for the Superbowl. Beggs and Ashchian said they planned to keep the driving range open, but council Vice President Thomas Buck wanted to know whether they would also revive the popular cruise nights — a display of vintage autos.
“I only have one question,” he said. “Are you planning on having a cruise night?”
Carnig said he wanted to bring back cruise night, but he asked the council whether the weekly event had to take place on Friday nights.
“Is it crucial to be on Friday night?” he asked, indicating he feels preparations needed for cruise nights will interfere with the driving range on Friday afternoons.
Buck and other councilors said they would be happy to have cruise night any day of the week.
Carnig said he was planning to hire a new emcee and expand the event to welcome more cars.
“We’re looking currently, the guy’s name is Cruisin’ Bruce who does the one at Bass Pro Shop, and they get over 1,000 cars on a Thursday,” he said.
Manni passed out menus to council members, who said they were pleased to see the restaurant re-opening.
“We love to see businesses opening back up,” Sylvia Thompson said.