3 Sanford/Springvale Homes Declared Dangerous Buildings

38 Jackson St. in Sanford

At its meeting on October 19, the City Council voted to find three houses in Sanford/Springvale to be dangerous buildings. Under state law, to adjudge a building as a nuisance or as dangerous, the Council must find that the building is structurally unsafe, unstable or unsanitary; constitutes a fire hazard; is unsuitable or improper for the use or occupancy to which it is put; constitutes a hazard to health or safety because of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence or abandonment; or is otherwise dangerous to life or property.  

A separate hearing was held for each property. Community Development Director Ian Houseal presented the evidence, including multiple photos of the interior and exterior of each building.

The purpose of the hearings is not for the City to seize the property or demolish it, but to induce the owner or parties in interest (mortgagees) to address the conditions that make it dangerous. In each case, multiple notices of violation have been sent by the City and been ignored. The owners or parties in interest for each property were notified of the hearing, but none appeared.

1 John St. in Springvale

1 John St. in Springvale is a single-family Foursquare built in 1927. The current owner, Judith Burnett of Sanford, purchased the property in 2006 for $180,500. A mortgagee, Ocwen Loan Servicing, initiated foreclosure proceedings in 2018 but has not completed the process. Mr. Houseal said he hoped the hearing would assist in the completion of the foreclosure. The owner and mortgagee have failed to maintain a vacant building license as required by the City. Code Enforcement has received complaints from neighbors. The evidence presented included:

  • No water service to the building since July 2018
  • Doors and windows are boarded and broken
  • No furniture or personal property, indicating abandonment
  • Junk present in some areas
  • The property is deteriorating and dilapidated including its porches and exterior stairs, with plants growing up the side of the building and through window openings
  • Electricity is still on, constituting a fire hazard.
21 Butler St. in Springvale

21 Butler St. in Springvale (directly behind Partners Bank) is owned by Karen Adams. She purchased it in 2005 for $150,000. Her address on the tax card is the property address, but the home is vacant and Mr. Houseal said the City has been unable to locate her. It is a single-family New Englander built in 1907.  The mortgagee, USDA Rural Development, has taken some steps to foreclose but did not complete the process. The property has never had a vacant building license as required by City code. There is a sewer lien on the property. Evidence presented included:

  • No water service to the building since August 2020
  • Doors and windows are open, broken, boarded, and damaged, inviting to trespassers and vandals
  • No furniture or personal property, indicating abandonment
  • Junk is present in some areas
  • The property is deteriorating and dilapidated including its exterior stairs, and soffits, with plants growing up the side of the building
  • Electricity is still on, constituting a fire hazard.

38 Jackson St. in Sanford (pictured at top) has been owned by Daniel MacGregor of Shapleigh since 1984. The three-family Victorian was built in 1900. Of the three homes, this one is in the worst condition, depreciated at 50% by the City assessor. There is no mortgage on the property. There is a current vacant building license on the property, but the owner is not fulfilling the obligations of the license by maintaining the property. Code Enforcement Officer Aaron Lederer said he spoke to Mr. MacGregor in June, when he indicated he was hoping to sell the property, but he has not returned calls since then. Mr. Houseal said they were really trying to work with the owner to get the issues resolved, but there has been no progress made on the maintenance, and at this point, the home may not be salvageable. The evidence included:

  • A newspaper in the mailbox of Unit C is dated May 10, 2018, indicating no habitable occupancy for at least that period of time.
  • Doors and windows are open and broken, and elements pass freely through the building.
  • Many cracks and breaks in the walls, with vines growing inside the building
  • Junk and tires in the yard
  • The property is deteriorating and dilapidated including collapsing porches and exterior stairs, making it unsafe
  • Electricity is still on, constituting a fire hazard

A member of the public on Zoom requested to speak, but as it was a legal hearing, and not a public hearing, Mr. Houseal asked them to call his office or the Code Enforcement office instead if they had any information to share.

Following the hearings, the City Council voted to order corrective action on all three of the properties. The orders require the buildings to be secured within 24 hours; that all rubbish and debris and plant growth be removed within 30 days; and that the owner or party in interest submit a rehab plan approved by the City Manager within 30 days of receiving the order. The rehab plan must address all deficiencies and bring the building up to code within a timely manner.

At its next meeting, the Council will vote to confirm the findings and orders, effectively giving the property owners an additional three weeks to address the issues. If no progress is made, the City can take steps to abate the nuisance.