Rumford board gives owners deadlines for demolition

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RUMFORD — Owners of two dilapidated buildings in town got a message from selectmen Thursday night: either take down the structures or the town will get the work done and charge the property owner.

At issue are a two-story garage at 47 Kerr St., which is owned by Aaron and Angela Gallant, and a single-story, 2.5-car garage at 237 Penobscot St. owned by Lee Farmer.

Angela Gallant asked the board to give her more time and she would complete the work with help from family members and friends.

Chairman Brad Adley told her the town had given them three years already, saying they were first notified in 2008.

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“I hear you, but I am more concerned with kids’ safety,” Adley said. “It’s very hard to turn a blind eye.”

Gallant told him she didn’t expect them to turn a blind eye to the problem. She asked for four months to complete the work.

Adley said he was concerned about seeing children playing basketball in front of the building and worried that it might topple over onto them.

Selectman Greg Buccina asked if the town were to demolish the building, could they place a lien on the property that she could pay off rather than making the couple pay the demolition costs.

Town Manager Carlo Puiia said that could be done. When a board member asked if the Public Works crew could demolish the structure at lower cost, Puiia said he wouldn’t recommend it.

Instead, he said it should go through the bidding process.

Puiia then told Gallant that four to six months “is unacceptable” because “it’s still putting people at risk.”

Code Enforcement Officer Rick Kent suggested giving them two to four days to board up the windows and doors, and 60 days in which to demolish the structure and haul off the debris.

“There’s no reason why it can’t be down in 30 days, but I’m trying to be a nice guy,” Kent said.

A neighbor of the Gallants who didn’t identify herself said the family of six should be given some leeway and not be expected to pay an estimated $10,000 to $16,000 to cover the cost of demolition.

She said the structure would collapse onto itself and asked the board to give the Gallants 48 hours to board it up and 60 days to have it torn down.

“We started this in 2008 and tonight’s the first time we hear anything about it?” Buccina asked.

He told Gallant she should have sought help from the town; Gallant said she wasn’t aware she could do that.

Selectman Mark Belanger then motioned to give the Gallants 48 hours to board up the building and 60 days to tear it down and haul off the debris.

“If it’s not down after 60 days, we’ll tear it down,” he said.

Belanger then added to his motion, saying if it’s not down, the board would hire a crew to take it down and put a lien on the property.

Selectmen then voted 4-0, approving the motion.

Belanger’s motion was also applied to Lee Farmer’s garage after Chairman Adley said the building fronts Washington Street. Its roof is falling down, he said.

Kent said he’d received complaints that the wind is blowing debris off the building and into the road.

He said Farmer, who didn’t attend the selectmen’s meeting, called him earlier on Thursday and said he would board it up.

In approving Belanger’s repeated motion 4-0, selectmen advised Kent to contact Farmer in writing to verify when the clock to get the work done begins ticking.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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