Editorial: Warren housing court is in session

Posted 4/18/18

Government can often move at a snail’s pace, a frustrating truth for anyone who has ever tried to have an issue adjudicated at the local court level. But Warren’s town council, legal staff, …

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Editorial: Warren housing court is in session

Posted

Government can often move at a snail’s pace, a frustrating truth for anyone who has ever tried to have an issue adjudicated at the local court level. But Warren’s town council, legal staff, building official and new housing court judge deserve much praise this week for putting the tools in place to give the town more power in enforcing its zoning and building regulations. Warren will be the more beautiful for it.

In its first-ever session last week, the new Warren Housing Court (see story, page 1) succeeded where years of previous effort had failed, when Judge Steve Sypole agreed with the town’s request to put two eyesore properties into receivership. The legal step is a big step, as it gives the town real teeth to compel property owners to clean up their mess. Apparently the ruling is already paying off, as a bank that formerly was nonresponsive to the town is now taking steps to clean up a foreclosed home it owns on Coomer Avenue. Hopefully, the receiver will help speed up the cleanup on Parker Avenue as well, where neighbors have wrung their hands in frustration for years.

The idea to establish a housing court here came from Warren Town Council member John Hanley, who works as the building official in Pawtucket. He saw how ineffective Warren was at compelling property owners to follow local codes, and knew there was a better way. The town’s attorney, Anthony DeSisto, took the request and ran with it, helping draft a court that should be more effective than other measures Warren has taken in the past. Mr. Hanley’s fellow councilors followed suit, establishing the court and hiring Judge Sypole several months ago.

The winners in all this are Warren residents, who in many cases have felt like their legitimate complaints about rundown properties go nowhere. Another winner in this is the town building official, who will be able to spend more of his time inspecting and signing permits, instead of chasing after scofflaws, in some cases for years.

The court is long overdue and it promises to be a very, very good thing for the town.

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.