NORWAY — Town Manager David Holt on Wednesday gave selectmen a copy of the court order detailing steps Opera House owner Barry Mazzaglia must take to stabilize the three-story brick edifice on Main Street.
The temporary restraining order was issued last week by Oxford County Superior Court Justice John Nivison, who listed seven actions the New Hampshire businessman must complete. They are:
• remove any snow more than one foot deep or five inches of ice on the rooftop.
• provide adequate bracing to the upper portion of the south wall and take adequate steps to stabilize the structure and the roof so that loads are transferred to the building’s foundation.
• immediately extend the posts supporting the trusses through the second and first floors so that the trusses are supported from the basement.
• immediately stabilize the roof with temporary shoring or in-fill the balcony level with framing and immediately reinstall heavier plywood sheathing over the back walls that are considered vulnerable to trespassers to prevent access for vandalism or fire setting.
• immediately block off the exterior walkway at the south of the building and place a fence around the area where bricks or the back wall may fall in, and secure the property so that no one shall enter or be on the property except to comply with the order until the structure and roof are stabilized and in compliance with the order.
The town’s request for the order and a preliminary injunction was filed Feb. 2 as a quick remedy to ensure the public’s safety from the vacant and “unstable” building as heavy snow on the flat roof threatened to collapse it. Scheduling problems at the court delayed the hearing until June 17.
The sagging roof of the 1894 building partially collapsed Sept. 21, 2007, under the weight of water, severing a sprinkler pipe and sending water cascading down through three floors. Two ground-level businesses, the only occupants in the building, were flooded out.
Two engineering studies have deemed the structure to be “unsafe to the public and neighboring property.”Engineers have said that more than a foot of snow on the roof could further compromise the stability of the structure.
Mazzaglia told the Sun Journal on Monday that he believes the building is stable. He did initial work to brace up the building, but town officials expressed dissatisfaction with it.
In his order, Nivison said the court found the town would suffer irreparable harm if the order was not granted and that the harm to the public in not granting it outweighs any harm to Mazzaglia by granting it.
Mazzaglia still faces a motion for a preliminary injunction, which will essentially have the same effect as the temporary restraining order. That motion is expected to be heard sometime in August, court Clerk Donna Howe said.
Mazzaglia must also answer the judge’s June 17 order to show evidence that his Bittim Enterprises is a New Hampshire corporation with less than five shareholders. If he can show that, the court will allow Mazzaglia to represent himself in the case, Howe said. If not, he will need to have legal representation, she said.
The Opera House, topped with a distinctive bell tower housing an E. Howard clock, is considered the anchor to the town’s downtown National Historic District. It was owned by the town from 1920 to the mid-1970s and its upper floors featuring a theater, ballroom and balcony, were used for cultural and civic events. Since then, it’s had a succession of private owners and the second and third floors have remained vacant.
Mazzaglia, a developer, bought it for $225,000 in 2003, shortly after it was designated one of seven of Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Properties by Maine Preservation of Portland. He did not have insurance on it when the roof collapsed.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.