RUMFORD — Selectmen voted unanimously at Thursday night’s meeting to put seven of nine tax-acquired properties out to bid.

Even though Rumford doesn’t want to get into the real estate business, according to Town Manager Carlo Puiia, two multi-family buildings on Waldo Street were retained until selectmen figure out whether to have them restored or destroyed.

These are at 426 and 438 Waldo St. and currently closed to use due to safety concerns and building code shortcomings, Puiia said on Friday afternoon.

“We need to consider the best plan for them,” he added.

Landlord Jim Barnett suggested during Thursday’s meeting that the city “tear down the vacant buildings so they can’t be started up again.”

“There are 30 empty buildings out there, and I think we should put these buildings in the ground,” he said.

Selectman Mark Belanger argued against holding onto the two Waldo Street properties.

“I don’t think they’re worthy,” he said. “The whole point of this is to clean out undesirable properties.”

Puiia also stressed that the town will be held liable should anything adverse happen on the properties while the town owns the buildings.

He also asked that before starting the bidding process on the seven properties, all taxes due the town, interest and any outstanding utilities’ fees should be worked into the minimum bid.

Selectman Greg Buccina suggested that Puiia include town lawyer Thomas Carey in the process to ensure that everything is done legally.

Properties going out to bid are:

• A two-family duplex at 688 Prospect Ave.

• A single-family house at 158 Route 232.

• A half duplex in the Brick Park neighborhood at 24 Erchles St.

• A landlocked lot of 0.14 acres on Kennebec Street.

• The 0.1-acre lot next to 107 York St. Puiia said a building on this lot was demolished last year.

• A 0.08-acre lot at 92 Maine Ave. A building there was also torn down last year.

• A 0.12-acre lot in the Virginia neighborhood at 515 Virgin St. Fire claimed the building on that parcel, Puiia said.

After the unanimous vote to put the seven properties out to bid, Chairman Brad Adley said, “I’ve been waiting to do that for two years.”

“Minimum bids will be determined next week,” Puiia said on Friday afternoon at the town office.

In other business, a list will be compiled of all other buildings deemed deteriorated or closed and empty.

Once that is done, Puiia said owners of these properties will be advised of Rumford’s new ordinance pertaining to unoccupied and abandoned buildings.

The ordinance considers any building unoccupied if if isn’t used for residential or commercial purposes, or is not undergoing active construction or renovation, for 120 continuous days or more, Puiia said.

It also states that any unoccupied commercial structure or residential building of three units or more can be designated as abandoned after 12 months of continued lack of use, repair or occupancy.

Owners of buildings declared abandoned by selectmen will be given 30 days to present a management plan to the town manager.

The ordinance additionally states that should the property owner fail to present a management plan or should selectmen declare the plan inadequate, the board will order the code enforcement officer to inspect the building. 

The CEO must determine if abandoned or unoccupied buildings are considered a public nuisance or blight under Maine law, has a history of neighborhood disruption or illegal activity caused by unauthorized use.

If so, Puiia said, selectmen can then seek to remove, renovate or restore such buildings.

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Rumford selectmen decided at Thursday night’s board meeting to retain this tax-acquired and deteriorated multi-family building at 426 Waldo St. until officials decide whether to demolish or restore it.

This deteriorated multi-family building at 438 Waldo St., Rumford, got a reprieve from being put out to bid at Thursday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting. Selectmen decided to retain ownership of the tax-acquired structure until they can decide whether to have it demolished to sold to be restored.

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