A recreational vehicle at 27 Rushton St. Photo: City of Sanford
By Zendelle Bouchard
At its meeting on Jan. 16, 2024, the City Council voted unanimously to declare three properties as Dangerous Buildings under the definition in state law. The Council, through the Land Bank, has made addressing abandoned and dilapidated properties throughout Sanford and Springvale a priority over the past several years. These actions have resulted in many vacant properties being brought back into habitable use and addressed problem properties that have been the focus of repeated neighborhood complaints. This week’s hearings dealt with an RV being used as living quarters, an abandoned Springvale home in poor condition, and a camp on Bauneg Beg Pond.
27 Rushton St.: Unlike with most Dangerous Building hearings, the problem at this property was not with the home itself, but with the use of the property. Ian Houseal, Director of Community Development, told the Council that notices of violation had been sent to the owner in 2022 and 2023 regarding a recreational vehicle being used as living quarters, as well as junk and trash, including mattresses, tires and other debris, piled around the yard and next to the house and camper. He said numerous complaints have been received from neighbors. Police reports consisted of a page and a half of calls since 2019, including disturbances, animal complaints and sex offenses. Propane canisters were stored next to the door of the RV, which reportedly has been padlocked with a dog left alone inside. Houseal said he was unsure if the owner, Matthew Welch, is living in the main house or using it as a rental property. Springvale resident Dianne Connolly spoke and strongly urged the Council to act if an animal is in danger.
58 Pleasant St. Photo: City of Sanford
58 Pleasant St.: Houseal said the home, owned by Shirley Trumble, is vacant and the water has been turned off since last August. The exterior and interior of the home are in very poor condition, with missing siding and windows, roof damage and a disintegrating chimney. He has been unable to locate the owner, who is believed to be in a nursing home. He said the house may be salvageable if it is stabilized soon. There is no mortgage on the property. Councilors offered suggestions for finding other family members, which Houseal will follow up on.
102 Channel Ln. Photo: City of Sanford
102 Channel Ln.: This camp on Bauneg Beg Pond is vacant and the electricity is disconnected. It is owned by Martin and Eugene Devlin. Houseal said the Code Enforcement Officer has made a determination of abandonment based on the condition of the home, which is dilapidated with rotting floors and holes in the roof. The deck is falling through. He read a letter from Martin Devlin, who wrote that medical issues had prevented him from rehabbing the property last year, but that he is now physically able to do so. He plans to begin cleanup within 60 days, weather permitting, and rehab the building by the end of the year. (Devlin attended the hearing in person but his comments from the audience were not audible on Zoom.) Houseal said the Dangerous Buildings process works by holding someone’s feet to the fire to follow through on a rehab plan.
For all three properties, the Council voted to order the nuisance abated and corrective action taken. The Council will vote to confirm the orders at its next meeting, after which they will be recorded at the Registry of Deeds. Property owners have 30 days from the date of recording to work out a rehab plan with the City. If that is not done, the City may take steps to abate the nuisance and assess a special tax on the property to cover costs.