JAY — Selectmen voted unanimously Monday hold a public hearing on a dangerous building at 24 Jewell St. as outlined by state law.
The former three-story apartment building was heavily damaged by a fire started by a 2-year-old on Feb. 17, 2011.
Owners Rose and Michael Grimanis of Farmington have had the third-floor removed and are in the process of making it into a two-story apartment building to rent out the first and second floor.
Code Enforcement Officer Shiloh LaFreniere said the owners have been working on the building and there has been some progress. She said that the debris remaining from removing the third floor remains outside on the ground.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Steve McCourt said he has been checking on the building and the roof is nearly complete.
McCourt read a letter from Rose Grimanis during Monday’s selectmen’s meeting.
In it, Grimanis thanked the board for its patience and fairness in the matter. Grimanis wrote that they have been working on the repairs as quickly as possible with limited funds. A roof should be completed by Monday’s meeting, she wrote. Once the roof is finished, the plan is to board up the windows and then the stairs to the third-floor porch would be removed, the letter stated.
They have limited funds and so much a month goes into it, McCourt said.
Resident Cindy Bennett said she has limited funds.
“This has been going on for a year,” she said.
Resident James Butler Jr. said that the building had extensive damage during the fire. He said selectmen have the right to deem it a dangerous building under Title 17 of state law.
LaFreniere said that selectmen had previously left it that if there was progress made on the building, that was OK.
At the end of December, there was no roof, she said. Now there is a roof, she said.
How much time are you going to give them? Bennett asked.
LaFreniere said selectmen could set some guidelines to when certain work needed to be done.
Butler and other residents questioned the soundness of the structure including the new roof.
McCourt asked if the town could demand that inspection be done before it is occupied?
That is reasonable, LaFreniere said.
“We have concerns about people moving in,” McCourt said.
Selectmen would need to hold a hearing prior to taking action to determine if the building is dangerous, LaFreniere said.
Butler asked if LaFreniere considered the building dangerous.
“Absolutely,” she said.
LaFreniere said the board has a right to deem the building dangerous, if warranted, and have it torn down.
Resident Michael Schaedler said he liked the cautious pace selectmen are going at since it shows some semblance of people’s property rights.
The town should not act on it just because it doesn’t look good, he said.
Yes, something should be done if a building is going to fall down and hurt someone, he said, but if somebody is putting $500 a month and working hard to fix it, they should be given time to do it.
“Our concern is they are going to rent it out,” McCourt said. “We don’t want to see people move into something that is not safe to live in.”
The board also doesn’t want to infringe on people’s property rights, he said.
Selectmen decided to notify the owners of Jewell Street building and inform them of an impending hearing.
LaFreniere said if the owners can be served paperwork in time, the hearing could take place at the Monday, Feb. 27, board meeting. If not, then the hearing would have to take place at the following meeting.