OXFORD — An Oxford man has been told to tear down his dilapidated home or the town will tear it down for him.

As of a June 25 notice, Leon Morse has been given 60 days to tear down the residence at 260 King St. and remove all personal property or the town will remove the building and recoup its expenses by placing a tax lien on the property.

In a letter to Morse, Code Enforcement Officer Rodney Smith said engineers inspected the property and found the building in “imminent” danger of collapse.

Failure to remove the property may result in its forfeiture, Smith wrote.

The decision follows nearly eight months of communication by town officials imploring Morse to clean up the property and repair the building.

Maine law allows cities and towns to declare structures that are unsanitary, unstable or fire hazards “dangerous buildings.” The designation allows the municipality to order the disposal of the structure.

Smith first notified Morse to clean up the property this past November, and when he received no response, he requested that selectmen move forward to designate it a dangerous building.

Fact-finding studies by selectmen found the back wall had collapsed, and the roof line is sagging and in possible risk of caving in. There are hazardous debris and trash heaped on the front porch and around the property.

In a public hearing on the issue in March, Morse said the building is structurally sound and he fully intended to clean it and make it livable again, but the long winter made progress difficult.

Later that month, selectmen signed an order declaring the building dangerous, giving Morse 60 days to clean it up or face demolition.

That deadline apparently came without significant improvement to the building. On June 12, at the town’s behest, engineers inspected the house, taking over 20 photos that showed the interior is in advanced stages of decay.

In a June 18 letter, engineer James Thibodeau, vice president of Falmouth-based Associated Design Partners hired to conduct the final survey of the property, recommended that selectmen condemn the building. He said the cost to refurbish the contents of the house was not economically feasible. 

The home has not been occupied since Morse lived in it two years ago.


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