NORWAY — The tenants of a Main Street apartment building must leave it by midnight Monday or police will remove them by court order, Town Manager David Holt said.
Oxford County Superior Court granted the town a temporary restraining order Jan. 14 that demands building owner Patrick McInnis not allow tenants at 168 Main St., effective at midnight Jan. 21.
While McInnis will be allowed to stay, tenants in a first-floor apartment must leave.
The restraining order comes months after town officials acted to ensure the safety of tenants in the building they consider to be a safety and health hazard. Last month, officials' fears were realized when the building filled with smoke after a wood stove malfunction. McInnis was treated for smoke inhalation at Stephens Memorial Hospital. There were no other injuries.
The incident happened a day after Oxford County Superior Court Justice Robert Clifford said he would wait until the next civil court day, Jan. 14, before enacting the eviction order.
Holt told selectmen Thursday that if the remaining tenants are not gone by midnight Monday, police Chief Rob Federico will be asked to go to the building to make them leave. Federico said it is a procedure his officers are used to.
“We believe the building is unsafe to live in,” Holt said.
There are four apartments in the two-story wood structure.
According to court documents, the town, its inhabitants and the tenants in the apartment building are “at risk for death, serious injury or property damage,” due to the conditions that have not been corrected, despite multiple notices from Code Enforcement Joelle Corey-Whitman.
The violations involve the chimney, electrical system, plumbing system, non-functioning smoke detectors and light fixtures, missing handrails, broken windows, no fire barriers for the furnace and stored gas, and mold and mildew.
On Sept. 4, the Board of Selectmen agreed to hold off on a vote to condemn the property after Corey-Whitman said she was hopeful the owner would make all the repairs soon. But as the weeks went by and many safety issues continued, Corey-Whitman told selectmen that action was needed to remove the tenants and owner.
McInnis has lived in the house for decades and although he knew the town was near to condemning it, he continued to advertise for tenants, specifically for those who might be self-sufficient enough to do repairs.
In early November, town officials said they would file for a court injunction to prevent McInnis from renting apartments until they pass inspection.