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3 More Properties Adjudged Dangerous Buildings

19 Winter St.

At its meeting on November 1, 2022, the Sanford City Council held hearings and adjudged three buildings in town to be Dangerous Buildings under state statute. The term Dangerous Buildings also includes properties that are found to be a public nuisance.

The three properties are the single-family home at 19 Winter St., and commercial buildings at 1115 Main St. and 554 Main St.

19 Winter St., which is owned by Mark Pombriant, has been vacant since a fire in 2006. Mr. Pombriant has been working to rehabilitate the home on and off since then. The water and electricity are on in the home and there is an open construction permit. The City has liens on the property for delinquent property taxes. Ian Houseal, Sanford’s Director of Community Development, showed photos to illustrate the condition of the home, which has some missing siding and boarded up doors and windows. “This is one of your main streets, this is what the public sees when they pass through Sanford on a daily basis,” he said. He said the determination of dangerousness would lead to a rehab plan with deadlines to get the work finished.

Mr. Pombriant appeared at the hearing and said the doors were boarded up to keep the home secure, but that he is there at least every other day. He said he already has a plan for the work which has been approved by the Code Enforcement Office, and the siding will be done within the next month. He said he would be willing to do what the City requires but “ask me, don’t order me.” He also expressed anger that it appeared someone had entered the home to take pictures, but City Manager Steve Buck said the photos of the interior were all taken through the windows.

Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio said she is concerned at the length of time the project is taking. She said the Land Bank has had this property on its radar for a long time, but action has been put off to give Mr. Pombriant a chance to finish the work. “We thought it can no longer be ignored,” she said, “we want to have the entrance to our community…be the beautiful house it can be.” Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy said if the outside were completed, Mr. Pombriant could take his time with the inside.

Councilor Ayn Hanselmann said she didn’t feel comfortable adjudging this property as a Dangerous Building because it is not in the same serious condition as many of the others the Council has heard. Councilor Michael Termath agreed that he didn’t consider it to be Dangerous. Ultimately the Council voted to adjudge the home a Dangerous Building by a vote of 4-3, with Councilors Hanselmann, Termath and Jonathan Martell in opposition.

The commercial building at 554 Main St. was formerly the Gate of Hope Holistic Center, but has been vacant for a few years. The water was turned off in April 2019. Mr. Houseal showed photos of the exterior, showing moisture damage and graffiti. The front was until very recently so overgrown that it was difficult to see the building. The property taxes are current but there is a balance owing to the Sanford Sewerage District of over $12,000. The owner, Evergreen Real Estate, has a purchase and sale agreement on the property, with closing expected to happen next month. The buyers, Joe and Sue Pierce of Precision Roofing, are excited to gut the building and remodel it to be the new headquarters for their business. Mr. Houseal said the Dangerous Buildings judgement would help facilitate that sale by holding the owner’s feet to the fire. The owner also joined the hearing by Zoom and said the balance due on the sewer would be paid at the closing. The Council voted unanimously to adjudge the property a Dangerous Building and order the nuisance abated.

554 Main St.

The other commercial building at 1115 Main St. is known as “the A-frame” and was once a Getty station. More recently a vape shop was located there. It has been owned since 2013 by Sanford Plaza LLC, a Biddeford company. The property taxes are two years in arrears and the water has been off since 2020. The owner finally obtained a vacant building license on October 31, the day before the hearing. Mr. Houseal said there were a number of issues with the property including rust on the canopy which may indicate structural issues, and an open monitoring well from the gas station days. The most recent Notice of Violation issued by the City in September described damaged siding, broken windows, plant overgrowth and lack of maintenance. Fred Smith appeared at the hearing and said he had been hired by the owner to make repairs, clean up the property and cut the grass, which he did last week. He said the owner is not a native English speaker and may not have understood the communications from the City. The Council voted unanimously to adjudge the property a Dangerous Building and order the nuisance abated.

1115 Main St.

A fourth hearing was also held, on the 8-family home at 11 Kimball St., owned by Robert Flannery under the name Alton Rollinsford LLC. The property has an order to vacate due to a long list of unsafe and unsanitary conditions, including the stairs in and out of the building, which Mr. Houseal described as structurally unsound. Code Enforcement Officer Aaron Lederer said the sprinklers in one unit still have the caps on, indicating they have not been inspected. Currently four of the eight units are occupied, but one of the tenants is being evicted. Mr. Houseal said of all the multi-family properties in Sanford, this one has the lowest assessed value, at less than $16,000 per unit. The average multifamily in the City is assessed at about $80,000 per unit.

Mr. Houseal said the City is very willing to work with Mr. Flannery on a timeframe for bringing the building up to habitable condition, but he has not responded to notices of violation and no construction permits have been pulled.

Councilor Becky Brink said she didn’t understand why any of the units were still occupied given the building’s condition. Mr. Houseal said the order to vacate goes to the owner, not the tenants. The owner must vacate the building or make it safe, but “it has not happened.”

He said the owner was given a reasonable time to address the issues, but Mr. Flannery waited months, then filed an appeal with the City’s Board of Appeals and with the Superior Court, which led to the City’s legal counsel recommending the Council continue the hearing until a later date when the owner’s attorney could be present. (He was out of the country.) The Council voted unanimously to table continuation of the hearing until a later date, which Mayor Mastraccio said would likely be December 20.

11 Kimball St. (2018 Google photo)

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