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Garden to bloom in Bridgeport

Updated 11:18 pm, Wednesday, January 16, 2013
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BRIDGEPORT -- A South End community garden is no longer a blight on the city, and won't have to pay $500 in fines.

Following a hearing Tuesday, an anti-blight hearing officer threw out the fines against Julianna Rathonyi, owner of the property on Columbia Court.

"All's well that ends well," said Chris Rosario, director of the city's anti-blight committee. "There are no fines and the garden can keep growing."

But Robert Halstead, the founder of the city's community garden program, said he's still confused why the city cited the garden in the first place. "I don't know why they fined it," he said.

Acting on a complaint, Rosario said an inspector went out and examined not only the garden area, but adjoining properties, which were all found to be in violation of the city's anti-blight regulations.

He said Rathonyi was initially fined $100, but that fine increased to $500 after an inspection done after 15 days determined the problem had not been cleared up.

While Rathonyi, of East Hampton, claimed she was not immediately contacted by the city regarding the violation, Rosario said the notices were sent to her home.

Rosario said the garden has since been cleaned up, and hearing officer, Lillian Wade, vacated the fines.

dtepfer@ctpost.com; 203-330-6308; http:// twitter.com/dantepfer