Board of Health Hears of Rat Control Program

The Revere Board of Health got together last Thursday, October 26, for a meeting in the City Council Chambers. Chairperson Dr. Drew Bunker and fellow members Dr. Craig Costanza and Nezha Louaddi were on hand for the session, as were Lauren Buck, Revere’s Director of Public Health, and Michael Wells, the city’s Health Agent/Director of Inspectional Services.

Buck presented the Public Health Communicable Disease monthly report. She noted that the highlights included three suspected cases of the mumps, but all were investigated and closed. She also reported that there were 347 confirmed cases and 116 suspected cases of COVID-19 from July 22 to October 23.

Buck also presented an update on a program operated by the Health Dept. to control mosquitoes this summer. She said that spraying conducted under the auspices of the Northeast Mass. Mosquito Control program has wrapped for the season. She added that two barrier treatments were made this season at the schools and other municipal properties. The program also came to private properties at the request of homeowners. There were five cases of West Nile virus this season across the state and no cases of EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis).

Buck also presented an update on the city’s rodent control efforts that run all year long. The city’s program consists of contracts with two exterminator services that provide free residential services upon request and baiting at municipal locations. She said that up to six free treatments in a calendar year are available to private property owners. Buck said there were 5188 service calls and 1086 treatments, and that 102 burrows were found and exterminated.

Buck noted that respiratory illness season arrives in the fall and that there are three significant illnesses, RSV, flu, and COVID-19, for which vaccines are available. She also pointed out that in addition to vaccinations, common-sense measures to avoid the spread of these diseases include good hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning high-touch surfaces in the home, and keeping sick children and ourselves home from school and work.

Wells presented the Inspectional Services monthly report. He noted that in addition to the usual inspections, there were 182 violations issued for accumulation and improper placement of trash; 35 for improper placement of bulky items; one for improper signage on public property (for a yard sale); one for improper storage of garbage and trash; five for improperly-parked vehicles on private property; 18 for overgrowth/unclean/unsanitary land; one for a sump pump; and two for construction work without a permit.

Buck then presented the requests for five Body Art licenses from local businesses and individuals. She said that her department had inspected the premises of the applicants and all had met the requirements for receiving a license. The board then voted to issue the licenses.

Buck also noted that there was one application for the city’s first-ever license for Chicken Keeping under the new state law. She said the applicant was inspected by herself and Wells and that the applicant has met all of the requirements for chicken-keeping. The board unanimously approved the issuance of the license.

The board then conducted what was described on its agenda as, “Appeal Hearing — Vacant Building.” Wells informed the board of the city ordinance that requires the owner of a vacant building to register the building within 45 days of it becoming vacant and pay a $500 registration fee. He said that the structure on 2 Pratt St., which is owned by Parkway Homes, LLC, in Newton, has been vacant for many months, but the owner has not complied with the ordinance.

A representative from Parkway Homes told the board that a tenant occupied the premises until the pipes burst during the winter freeze last February and made the home uninhabitable. The owner filed a claim with the insurance company, which only finally issued a check in October. He said the check was for $80,000, but the $500 vacant building registration fee “adds insult to injury because it does not reflect why this law was enacted. This is not a question of allowing the property to fall into disrepair. It would have continued to be occupied but for the winter freeze.”

The representative said he had no objection to registering the property with the city, but asked that the board suspend the payment of the $500 fee to allow time for the repair of the property with the insurance proceeds.

The board voted to continue the matter to its November meeting to see what the status of the building is at that time.

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