Rumford board starts eviction process for Prospect Ave. town-owned apartment

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RUMFORD — Selectmen voted unanimously Thursday night to have the town attorney start the eviction process for two tenants living in a tax-acquired building on Prospect Avenue.

The tenants, who are not being named, are aware of their predicament at 566 Prospect Ave., and are trying to find housing, fire Chief Bob Chase Jr. said.

“They’re not unaware of the circumstances that they’re in,” he said. “It won’t come as a surprise to them.”

The upstairs tenant told him about a week ago that they would be moved out in the next two weeks. The downstairs tenant, who has physical disabilities, told Chase he hopes to be out within two months.

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Chase said the eviction process would start a timeline should the tenants lack motivation to move out. He also left it up to selectmen whether or not they will put 566 Prospect Ave. out to bid or add it to the demolition list.

Chase is also a member of the Town Property Ad Hoc Committee, which is tasked with vetting possible buyers of tax-acquired properties and making recommendations on whether to put properties out to bid or demolish them.

He said they found typical fire code violations at the Prospect Avenue building that they’ve found elsewhere in town. Additionally, he said that even though there are two apartments in the building, it’s not considered an apartment structure.

“The real issue I have with the building, and the reason I would not like to have people living there through the winter, is the only thing keeping it weather tight is a blue tarp on the roof that the tenants that are there have now put on,” Chase said.

“Every ceiling tile on the second floor shows signs of water damage,” he said.

Selectman Frank DiConzo motioned to have town attorney Jennifer Kreckel start the eviction process.

After it was seconded, police Chief Stacy Carter encouraged selectmen to start the process as soon as possible. He said the building has required a lot of police attention and that tenants had continued to stay there even after it was tax-acquired.

When Madigan asked if it could be rehabilitated, Chase said it would need significant roofing work. He also didn’t think the building is well-suited for a single-family home.

“So if you don’t want multi-families up there, then I suggest it be demo’d,” Chase said. If it was demolished and the debris removed, the lot could be offered to abutters, he said.

“So right now they’re living there rent-free, right?” Selectman Brad Adley asked.

Chase said yes. “They’re trying to get out, but I think starting this process puts some finality into it.”

The board voted 4-0 to start the process. Selectman Mark Belanger was absent.

“We’ve got the process in place,” Selectmen Chairman Greg Buccina said. The town has an ad hoc policy for dealing with tax-acquired property.

“Sometimes the process doesn’t work out as quickly as people want, but it’s in place and we’ve knocked two down and there’s more to come. As we do it, we do it right.”

Additionally, the board voted unanimously to:

* Add four more tax-acquired properties to the demolition list. These are: 222 and 317 Pine St., 134 Penobscot St. and 429 Waldo St. Taking them down this year will depend on the amount of money in the demolition fund, Town Manager John Madigan said.

* Place the two-unit building at 16 Free St. out to bid with a covenant that it can only be used as a single-family dwelling. Chase said this building is structurally sound except for its exterior porches.

* Authorize fire Chief Bob Chase Jr. to meet with abutters of the vacant lot at 0 York St. to gauge interest in the lot.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

134 Penobscot St., Rumford

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