OXFORD — Selectmen have given a man they told to tear down his dilapidated  home another chance to save it. 

At their meeting Thursday evening, selectmen scrapped Town Manager Michael Chammings’ plan to demolish Leon Morse’s residence at 260 King St., wary of possible litigation and hesitant to deprive a resident of their property. 

The move reverses direction on the town’s stance that Morse tear down the property or the town would tear it down for him. It seemingly continues a nearly 10-month saga in which the town has declared the building decrepit.

At the beginning of the meeting, it seemed as though the town was poised to hire a construction company to remove the building, which the town’s fire chief warned is a fire danger and independent engineers declared structurally unsafe. 

However, Selectman Roger Jackson spoke against the proposal, saying he was concerned that the move exposed the town to a lawsuit. In any event, he was loathe to take action against Morse, whom he said should be given a chance to come before the board. 

“Let me talk to him and bring him here for our next meeting,” Jackson said. 


The town cleared several hurdles before issuing the original order, according to Chammings. 

“We’ve done everything we can to get him to comply,” he said. 

Maine law allows cities and towns to declare structures that are unsanitary, unstable or fire hazards as “dangerous buildings,” a designation which permits the town to tear down the building. 

The process began in November, when Code Enforcement Officer Rodney Smith requested that selectmen move forward to designate it a dangerous building after his attempts to contact Morse were rebuked. 

Fact-finding studies found that the back wall had collapsed, and the roofline was sagging and in possible risk of caving in. Hazardous debris and trash were heaped on the front porch and around the property, some of which has since been cleared. 

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 had made progress difficult.

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

That deadline apparently came without significant improvement to the building.

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

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