OLD TOWN – Two and a half years after a fire at a Main Street residence, city officials may soon be taking action to have the home torn down.
In October 2012, Winnie Osnoe, who owned a home at 614 Main Street with her mother, set it afire in frustration over the fire. At the time, city officials were appalled with living conditions – the home had no running water, trash was strewn everywhere, and pets had defecated in the house. Those conditions, coupled with the fire, led Code Enforcement Officer David Russell to condemn the property.
Since the fire, no repairs have been done to the property, and its condition only has worsened, leading city officials to decide to take steps to have the property declared a dangerous building so it could be ordered removed. The effort to do so, however, has been stymied because of legal procedures that must be followed – there was difficulty in contacting the mortgage company, and Osnoe and her mother could not be found to serve them notice that a hearing would be held on the property.
The mortgage holder, which while having secured the property has never foreclosed, was finally contacted last month, and Osnoe and her mother were served papers last Monday. That short notice prevented the council from taking final action on the property, but it will hold the final hearing to decide its disposition soon. Russell said the demolition should be done during cold weather to eliminate its effects on the neighborhood, particularly the stench that will emanate from it.
Who will tear the property down remains uncertain. If the property is declared dangerous, Osnoe could be ordered to do so. But given that she has done nothing to the property since the fire, that seems unlikely. Should the city end up tearing down the home, it could assess a special lien; whether it would be able to recoup this costs seems unlikely.

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