Community Development

Mission


The Community Development Department has a broad mission and is comprised of three Divisions: Planning, Housing and Development, and Economic Development.

Together, we are committed to improving the quality of life for Fitchburg's residents by revitalizing neighborhoods, improving housing, making long- and short-term planning goals about land use, increasing job opportunities and tax revenues, and supplementing city funds with available grant funds whenever possible.

RESPONSIBILITIES


The Division of Housing and Development is responsible for obtaining and managing state and federal grants which help further the city’s overall community development objectives.
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COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT PROGRAM


Each year, Fitchburg receives an allocation from The Federal Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG). This annual entitlement program provides basic funding to support many local projects ranging from parks and playground improvements to demolition of abandoned buildings, to housing and streetscape improvements. 

It also provides vital public services for the young and the elderly. The Division uses these grant funds as leverage to secure millions each year in competitive state and federal grants used to rebuild and redevelop critical zones within the city - encouraging job creation, business investment and growth of the city’s tax base.

PROBLEM PROPERTY TASK FORCE

The Mayor’s NICE Task Force, (Neighborhood Improvement through Code Enforcement) is a collaborative effort between various departments within City Government to address problem properties in our Fitchburg neighborhoods.  Department heads and staff meet twice monthly to discuss properties that have been identified as problematic because of issues such as fire damage, vacancy/abandonment, foreclosure, blight, alleged criminal activity, and/or significant building/sanitary/health code violations.  Staff work together to develop strategies to address problematic properties and follow up with ongoing strategies in progress. 

Some of the most common tools used by the Task Force are coordinated code enforcement inspections, working directly with owners to address issues, receivership, (the process of appointing an entity as a receiver/manager of the property via the housing court to correct the deficiencies that make the property a problem) , and as a last resort, demolition.

The Task Force has also developed several initiatives in recent years including:   
  • A vacant/foreclosing property registry to track properties in the foreclosure process.
  • A partnership with Harvard Graduate School of Government’s Innovation Field Lab to develop and implement innovations in addressing problem properties.  Students have focused on developing property tracking software and tools to efficiently manage property related data.  This is the City’s third year participating in this effort. See Video  
  • A partnership with the ReImagine North of Main Initiative to work in that area collaboratively to strengthen our impact and replicate successful strategies throughout Fitchburg.
  • Through the ReImagine North of Main Initiative, a partnership with Fitchburg State University GIS department to develop and conduct a property conditions survey in the North of Main area.  Students also created a standard operating procedure manual in order to conduct surveys in an objective and consistent manner with community volunteers and students.

The City recognizes the challenges in identifying and addressing property related problems in real time.  Fitchburg residents can identify and report problems through the smartphone and web app: SeeClickFix or on the City's web page: Let Us Know.