CANTON — Town officials condemned a log cabin on Route 140 this month for having “unlivable conditions.”

Town Administrator Scotty Kilbreth updated selectmen Thursday night about Steven Cole’s property at 258 School St. Cole wasn’t living there when Animal Control Officer Richard Burton Jr. arrived earlier this month to investigate an animal complaint.

“As soon as he entered the house, we found that the house is not suitable for anyone or anything to be living there,” Kilbreth said. “The place is unfriggin’ real, it really is. It ought to be destroyed.”

Kilbreth described color photos that Burton sent to the Town Office, saying two large metal tubs inside and the bathtub were full of human waste and there was animal waste throughout the house.

Canton health officer Donna Hebert and Kilbreth went to the property and contacted the town lawyer who sent paperwork to condemn the place.

On Monday, Cole was served papers to that effect.

The house and driveway were blocked off with yellow tape, but people have been tearing it down and stealing Cole’s property, so Kilbreth alerted county law enforcement.

“Now people can be arrested for going there,” he said. “We’ve put the tape up I don’t know how many times.”

He also notified the property’s mortgage holder, who has been paying Cole’s property taxes.

Kilbreth said the house has been unoccupied since Burton removed two dehydrated dogs and took them to an animal shelter. “Both dogs are doing fine now,” Kilbreth said.

Kilbreth said that neither he nor other town officials knew that anyone was living in the house through the winter. He said the electricity had been shut off all winter and that Cole later told him he’d been getting water out of Whitney Brook behind his house.

The house was built in 1981 by auto-body worker Andy Dubord, who cut spruce and fir logs from the Meadowview area. Kilbreth and others then helped peel off the bark.

“It was at one time a nice place,” he said.

Cole’s parents bought the house and lived there until his mother died and his father moved away, Kilbreth said. Cole bought the house from his parents and moved in less than 10 years ago. In 2010, town records show that he got a building permit from the Planning Board for a garage or outbuilding. (According to a family member, Cole had actually be living in the house for more than 20 years).

When Burton got the complaint about the dogs, Kilbreth said Cole, who is in his late 40s to early 50s, had been having chest pains and went to the hospital, where he was admitted for heart surgery.

Prior to surgery, Cole told Kilbreth that he had contacted his children and asked them to take care of the dogs.

“A week or two later, the children called the ACO and said Cole was neglecting the dogs,” which prompted Burton’s investigation, Kilbreth said. He said he believes Cole’s children were taking care of the dogs, because there was food and water left in the house.

When Burton told Cole that he had taken the dogs to an animal shelter and he had so many days to claim them, Cole “was devastated, because he said they’re like his children, but who leaves their ‘children’ in a house like that? Kilbreth said.

Kilbreth said there is a waiting period to allow Cole to bring an action plan for the house to town officials.

He said the mortgage company could decide to have it demolished or cleaned.

“We’re waiting on the clock now, but people can be arrested if they go onto the property,” Kilbreth said.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: