RUMFORD — The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted Thursday evening to accept a letter drafted by the Code Enforcement Officer that asks owners of certain properties to bring their buildings up to code.
The board originally asked Code Enforcement Officer Richard Kent to draft a letter to the owner of a vacant building at 7 Ernest St. after a resident said the building seemed dangerous. The vacant one-story home is listed online for $19,500.
“The board asked our code enforcement officer to draft a letter that would go to the owner on record, warning them that their building needs a plan of correction,” Puiia said last week. “In this case, it's our understanding that the building is owned by a bank. The letter gives them notice that if the building is not fixed, it could become a tax-acquired property and be torn down by the town."
At the Oct. 24 selectmen meeting, the board also asked Kent, with the help of fire Chief Robert Chase, to drive around town, find any buildings that were not up to code and list them.
During Thursday's selectmen meeting, Kent presented a draft of his letter to the owner of the vacant building on 7 Ernest St.
After reading it, Selectman Frank DiConzo asked Kent if similar letters would be sent to owners of all the properties Kent and Chase had listed earlier.
“Well, that's up to you,” Kent said. “Do you want these buildings to just be maintained or do you want them to be completely fixed up?”
“I want to do what's right,” DiConzo replied.
Kent said town ordinance requires owners to maintain the building and provide a plan of correction, while a state statute says the town can ask that any building deemed dangerous be brought up to code, or it will become a tax-acquired property and be torn down.
“You can go by the town's ordinance or go by state statute,” Kent said. The letter he wrote for the Ernest Street property follows the state statute.
Selectman Jeff Sterling said “the status quo doesn't cut it this time.
“It seems to me that the owners should either fix them up to make them habitable again, or we tear it down,” he said. “One or the other. There's no sense in maintaining it so it can just sit there.”
Resident Kevin Saisi told the board that “some of these owners have had a lot of chances to fix up their buildings.
“I think it's time we got rid of some of this excess so we can build a better part of our community,” he said. “I'd like to see some of these buildings gone so it doesn't look as dumpy as some people may think it does. Rather than giving people excessive chances to fix up their buildings after all the time they've had, I think it's time for the board to say, 'Do something or get off the pot, because if you don't, it'll end up tax-acquired and the town will take care of it.'”
Chairman Greg Buccina lauded Kent for writing a “good letter” that “crosses all the t's and dots all the i's.
“I think that when time permits, you should send a draft of this letter out to any buildings that are substandard and do not meet the requirements of the code,” he said. “I say let's get moving on it. I think this letter will stand up.”
The board voted to approve the letter for the vacant building on 7 Ernest St., and to use it as a model for any buildings he decides need to be brought up to code.