RUMFORD — Owners of two structures deemed hazardous this spring and ordered demolished and cleaned up got a slight reprieve at Thursday night's selectmen meeting.
By a 3-to-1 vote each time, the board gave Lee Farrar and Aaron and Angela Gallant five days to complete work to Code Enforcement Officer Rick Kent's satisfaction. Selectman Brad Adley dissented. Selectman Jeremy Volkernick was absent.
Farrar owns the three-bay garage at 237 Penobscot St.; the Gallants own what's left of 47 Kerr St.
Should they fail to complete the work by the end of the day on Tuesday, Aug. 23, court proceedings will be started.
Selectman gave Farrar 60 days in late May to remove the caved-in structure and debris and fill in the foundation hole to make the property safe.
Farrar proceeded to do the work before learning that one bay was salvageable and sought permission to keep one bay.
He told selectmen Tuesday night that he met with Kent and tried to get his request before selectmen ahead of the deadline. However, Town Manager Carlo Puiia said when Farrar sought the board's audience, the deadline to get the topic on the board's agenda had passed.
Still, Kent advised selectmen this month by letter that Farrar can keep the third bay if he removes the debris and fills in the foundation hole.
When asked by Selectman Chairman Greg Buccina if he could accomplish that, Farrar said he could.
Adley and Selectman Jolene Lovejoy said the board gave Farrar plenty of time. They argued that selectmen should stick to Kent's original order and deny Farrar's request and require him to remove the third bay.
“It has been a mess out there,” Lovejoy said.
“I know you took some of it away, but that yellow tape won't prevent a kid from getting injured out there.”
“That's a big hole there and there are a lot of children in the area and I'm appalled that it's gone this long,” she said. “I'm going to play hardball on this and I'm sorry it's you, but you didn't do what you were asked to do.”
However, after Buccina read their options — to deny the request and force demolition of the remaining bay and cleanup or to grant the five-day extension — Lovejoy softened her stance.
Adley, however, did not.
“I'm not going to back down,” he said. “We were reasonable about it. We gave him 60 days.”
Selectman Jeff Sterling said that when the board gave Farrar 60 days, none of them realized that one garage bay could be salvaged.
“We made a decision without knowing all the facts, and how could we?” he asked.
“We didn't have all the evidence, so it seems to me that if the CEO agrees that this is a salvageable and usable garage, we could amend our decision.”
The board then voted to give Farrar five days, after which he signed an agreement provided by Puiia.
Puiia then expounded on the Gallant's situation, saying they did “a fair job” of complying, but left the structurally unsound flooring and some side wall in place.
“It's just a foundation and they left it with just boards over it,” Lovejoy said. “Again, it's another safety hazard.”
She then suggested they give the Gallants five days to finish the work to Kent's satisfaction or court action will ensue. Neither the Gallants nor a representative attended the meeting.
Remaining resolute, Adley said he wouldn't support the time extension.
Sterling said the Gallant's situation shouldn't be compared to Farrar's, because Kent deemed the entire structure unsafe and nothing was salvageable.
However, he wanted to save the town the expense of going to court to gain compliance.
After the vote, Buccina asked Puiia to call the Gallants and advise them of the decision.