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Five Properties Declared Dangerous Buildings

8 York St.

At its meeting on October 4, 2022, the Sanford City Council voted to declare five properties in the City as Dangerous Buildings under state law, following separate hearings. The first four properties, which are all vacant, were adjudged dangerous or a nuisance by unanimous vote, while the Council split 4-2 on the last one, which is occupied. Councilor Ayn Hanselmann was not present.

Community Development Director Ian Houseal presented the City’s case for each property, with additional comments by Code Enforcement Officer Aaron Lederer.

The four vacant properties are:

88 Lebanon St.: This single-family home was owned by the heirs of Lisa Cushing, who purchased it in 2011. The property was foreclosed on by the mortgagee, and was sold at auction four months ago to Frechette Holdings LLC, although it only closed last month after the loan company was notified of the dangerous building action. Mr. Houseal detailed the lengthy list of issues with the property, which included boarded up windows, interior vandalism and an abandoned vehicle in the driveway. The water has been off since 2019. The police report shows multiple trespassing complaints in 2020, when squatters were living in the home. Although new owner Bob Frechette has begun work to rehabilitate the property, no construction permits have been pulled. Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy said the process of declaring the property dangerous ensures that the home is properly rehabbed with all necessary inspections, and isn’t just given cosmetic updates that mask underlying problems.

88 Lebanon St.

23 Rankin St., Springvale: The water on this long-vacant single-family home was turned off in 2012, after the longtime owner, Mildred L. Hill, passed away. The property was winterized by the mortgage holder at some point, but no other regular maintenance has been done. Mr. Houseal said it never had a vacant building license. There is garbage in the garage which causes “quite a stench” via an open window, and there are numerous other violations of City code. Attorney Kylie Germann, representing the mortgage holder, said she is working to do a deed in lieu process with Ms. Hill’s heirs so they don’t have to foreclose, but tax liens have to be cleared before that can happen. Once that is done, they are willing to remediate the issues.

23 Rankin St.

10 Lenox St.: This single family home doesn’t look bad from the street, but has serious issues including a broken septic pipe that has leaked into the basement causing what Mr. Houseal characterized as an “overwhelming” odor from the open cellar door. Rodents and standing water have been observed in the basement. Other interior and exterior doors are nailed shut and the windows are covered with black trash bags or boards. The property was purchased in July 2020 by Matthew Howell, who is currently residing at the York County Jail. The police report for the property since September 2020 is three pages long with complaints including trespassing, disturbances and suspicious activity. Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio said that many reports indicates the property is “a huge problem for the whole neighborhood.”

10 Lenox St.
The basement at 10 Lenox St.

9 Grove St.: This vacant home located at the corner of Grove Ln., behind CVS, was purchased by Susan Meggison of Shapleigh in 2004, and went into foreclosure between 2017 and 2020. Two months ago it was deeded to Blue Sky Properties, LLC of Saco. The mortgage was discharged last month and it was purchased by Home Again Development LLC of Lewiston. Mr. Houseal detailed the notices of violation on the property, for issues including deteriorating chimney, rotted wood, cracked window glass, broken handrails and more. Mitchell Lachapelle, owner of Home Again, joined the meeting to say he has just begun renovating the property. He will work with the City on a rehab plan and get inspections done to get an occupancy permit.

9 Grove St.

8 York St.: This home came before the Council last year, when it approved legal action against the owner to force the removal of junk vehicles on the property. The courts later found he was operating an unlicensed junkyard, and the City removed five vehicles this past May. The special assessment of $2,450 for that removal is still outstanding. Mr. Houseal said there are tires, mattresses and debris stacked around the property, although he noted that progress has been made in cleaning it up. The property is occupied by the owner, Lucas Hilton, and his girlfriend. Mr. Hilton said he works 60 hours a week and has been making dump runs as time allows. The home’s occupancy permit was revoked briefly in August when the power was shut off. It has since been restored. In addition to numerous complaints by neighbors about the condition of the property, there have also been multiple animal complaints, related to chickens and dogs running loose. At last night’s hearing Mr. Hilton said neighbors “freak out” because the dog is pit bull mastiff mix, but in August, he was summonsed for leaving the scene of an assault by a dog that causes injury, keeping a dangerous dog and reimbursement for damage done by animals. That case has not gone through the court system yet. Mr. Houseal said although cleanup has begun on the property, he wanted to see a rehab plan with deadlines. He said a lot of vehicles are still being repaired on the property. The Council voted 4-2 to declare the property dangerous and a nuisance, with Councilors Jonathan Martell and Michael Termath voting in opposition.

The backyard at 8 York St.

Following the hearings and the judgements, the Council ordered corrective action on the five properties, bundling them together in one vote. The corrective actions include that the properties are to be immediately secured, that all dangerous materials are to be removed from the property, and that a rehab plan be submitted to the City Manager within 30 days of recording the order. It stipulates that there shall be no occupancy of the building until the property has been satisfactorily rehabilitated, despite the fact that one of them is currently occupied and there has been no evidence presented that the interior is uninhabitable. The orders were approved 4-2, with Councilors Martell and Termath again casting the opposing votes.

The orders for corrective action will not be recorded until the Council affirms its decision at the next meeting on October 18. If the orders are not complied with, the City may move to take corrective action including securing and cleaning up the properties. The owner(s) would then be assessed for any expenses incurred.

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