LEWISTON — The Lewiston City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to demolish two dangerous structures.
The properties in question are at 68 River Road and 264-266 Lincoln St.
Donald Tremblay and his son, Chad Tremblay, were present to voice their concerns over their River Road property.
“I wasn’t aware that I owned it,” Donald Tremblay told the council, clarifying that the structure adjacent to his home had for years been used by an elderly neighbor to store some of his belongings.
The land the property sits on is owned by Franklin Property Trust. Tremblay questioned the council about who was responsible for paying for the demolition and to what extent the land should be cleared.
Tremblay said that before he was aware that the River Road property was his, he had approached city officials several times, warning them that the structure was unsound and ought to be taken down.
“Had I know it was (mine), I would have taken it down myself,” Tremblay said. “That’s a piece of garbage.”
Exasperated, Tremblay told the council, “I’ve been dealing with this for eight years; you haven’t.”
Councilor Donald D’Auteuil assured Tremblay, “We’re typically not going after you — we’re going after Franklin.”
Director of Code Enforcement and Planning Gil Arsenault and Code Enforcement Officer Tom Maynard said it was unfortunate Tremblay was put through having to come before the council with his concerns.
Arsenault said Franklin Property Trust owns a considerable amount of property in Lewiston and considers all who live on the property to be “tenants at will, so Franklin at any point in time can evict anyone for any reason,” giving them 30 days to vacate.
The typical properties the city demolishes, Arsenault said, are those the owners have walked away from and the banks have not stepped in and taken responsibility.
That, Arsenault said, is when copper thieves come in, when vandalism and vagrants take their toll on the structure and create a “cancer in the neighborhood.” He said if the city was not being proactive, there would be much greater city deterioration.
Arsenault described the long legal process leading to the demolition of abandoned or condemned buildings, followed by a 30-day notice of payment to the city for the demolition process.
Arsenault and Maynard said the onus would be placed upon Franklin Property Trust rather than people like Tremblay, allowing the city to recoup some of its costs or place a lien on the property until payment is made.
“The reality is, he is not a millionaire,” Arsenault said. “We’re not going to go after him. We’re not going to try to take him to court and recover our losses. Our beef will be with Franklin.”