By Zendelle Bouchard
At its meeting on September 19, 2023, the City Council voted to declare three properties in Sanford and Springvale to be Dangerous Buildings as defined under state law.
144 Stanley Rd. in Springvale has been vacant for many years and was condemned in 2003. Owners Alexander Wall and his daughter, Deborah Hamilton, purchased the property in 2021. Ian Houseal, Sanford’s Director of Community Development, said there had been complaints from neighbors about insulation stored outdoors and blowing around the property. He noted lumber, an oil tank, appliances, and piles of scrap metal on the property as well. The building lacks siding and many windows are also missing. The vacant building license on the property is current. Hamilton stated they plan to rehab the building and sell it. She said her father had boarded up all the windows earlier that day, and they will clean it up in the next few months before beginning repairs. In the findings of fact, Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy noted that the open building smelled strongly of rotting construction material.
21 Grove St., also in Springvale, is a single-family home occupied by the owner, Shannon Stuart, who inherited it from a family member in 2013. Houseal showed a number of photos of vehicles, stacked lumber and other junk on the property. The front porch has signs of deterioration. He noted that the owner has made efforts to clean up the property recently. Code Enforcement Officer Aaron Lederer added that Stuart has applied for a building permit to repair the porch. Stuart was present for the hearing and told Councilors he has spent the summer clearing up the front of the property and removing vehicles, but admitted he has procrastinated in the past. He said the house is actually very solid. Mayor Becky Brink said the Dangerous Building process helps to motivate homeowners to finish repairs.
217 Old Mill Rd., owned by Ashley Simpson of Boston, Mass., has been in his family for many years, and was once the home of his grandfather, Noil Simpson. The property has been vacant for decades; the farmhouse is partially collapsed and the garage is also collapsed. The building was condemned in 2003. Simpson appeared via Zoom and detailed his plans to clean up the parts of the property that cannot be salvaged, and securing what remains. Councilors were in agreement that securing the property was the immediate concern, as it could be a danger to curious children in the neighborhood. Houseal said he will work with the owner to figure out a plan for that.
The Dangerous Buildings law allows the City to take action to abate the nuisance if the property owner fails to follow through with a rehab plan. These actions might include cleanup, securing or demolition. The City then levies a special tax on the property to recover these costs. If the tax is not paid, it matures into a lien. If the City ends up taking the property, a process which may take several years, it is sold and any excess proceeds are returned to the owner.