ANDOVER — Selectmen unanimously voted Tuesday night to hire Jamie Belleau as the town attorney.

Law firm Bernstein & Shur of Portland previously handled the town’s legal needs.

“We absolutely need to have one,” Selectman Jane C. Rich said. Board of Selectmen Chairman Jim Adler and Selectman Keith Farrington agreed.

Bell met with the board previously and Adler said they had no problem recommending him.

After treasurer Barbara Simmons asked if the board would be dropping Bernstein & Shur, which handled bonds and town money matters, selectmen reserved the right to continue to use Bernstein & Shur as needed.

“This doesn’t lock us in to only (Belleau),” Selectman Keith Farrington said.

While still on the subject of lawyers, Adler revived discussion from last week’s meeting on the longstanding legal matter between the board and resident Bob Morin.

Morin built a deck on his house in violation of town law on expanding an existing structure. He removed the deck and was found to still be in violation of the 30-percent maximum expansion allowance, prompting Morin to hire a lawyer.

That lawyer wrote the board a letter about the matter and selectmen asked Code Enforcement Officer Robert Folsom Sr. for his opinion. Adler said Morin’s lawyer accused Folsom of wrongdoing.

Folsom said he wouldn’t respond until he read the letter, and went outside to do that while selectmen continued their meeting. Adler said the board would be better off just to leave the matter for lawyers to settle.

“I don’t think our attorney has steered us wrong,” Adler said.

Folsom disagreed when he later returned.

He advised the board to hold the town lawyer accountable for incorrectly writing the violation by not listing the proper sections in the code. “They had the right to expand the building to 30 percent . . . but they expanded it too much,” Folsom said.

“What they’re arguing about now is whether or not they have to pay our legal fees,” Keith Farrington said.

“Pay the bill and be done with it,” Folsom said, “Because you’re not going to win (in court) if your lawyer didn’t make the violation properly. If their numbers are right, I think they have a good point.”

Folsom also updated the board about two buildings to determine if they can be deemed dangerous so demolition proceedings can be started.

The first building is across from the town library. Folsom said he talked to the owner and learned she doesn’t have the money to tear the building down. He said someone suggested that local contractor Steve Swasey would likely donate his time to demolish it, but would want to be paid to haul the material away.

Folsom advised the board of its options, which also include burning it down on a rainy day. The board took no action.

Folsom said the second building is the unfinished East Andover Fire Station that the Andover Firemen’s Association partially erected years ago and never finished because town meeting voters chose not to fund the project. The partially-built roof had since collapsed.

Folsom said former Andover Fire Chief Ken Dixon told him that he wants to restore the building and put its doors back up, which rendered it safe per town law. However, Adler said the doors fell off and keep falling off.

Folsom said the town can send a series of letters to the private organization to start a document trail should the matter get to court, giving them a certain amount of time to tear it down.

Selectman Rich said the issue is affecting the sale of other property. She called the station “an eyesore.”

“It’s been an eyesore for years,” Simmons said.

Adler said the building has a history of being brought into compliance and then failing again.

“Well we don’t have an eyesore ordinance, so I want to make sure before we ask to have a building taken down that we have some good backing,” he said.

“I don’t think we have any ordinance at all that covers it,” Farrington said. “We’d have to go back to the state statutes.”

“You don’t have a junkyard law either, but if you did, you could ask me to enforce that,” Folsom said.

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