Property cleanup could top $10,000

Posted June 04, 2009, at 7:13 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:17 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Public works crews returned Thursday to a home on Eighteenth Street to finish removing debris as part of a court order more than a year in the making.

For decades, the home at Eighteenth Street, owned by Aaron Husek, has been littered with old cars, motor homes and even a school bus. Each vehicle was packed with junk, including old televisions, computer monitors and half-empty jugs of motor oil.

The city finally received the go-ahead this week to execute a court order and clean up the property. That process began on Wednesday, continued Thursday and likely will end up costing the city more than $10,000, according to Code Enforcement Officer Dan Wellington.

“We’ll send a demand notice of payment in accordance with the court order,” he said. “If [the homeowners] can’t pay, and it looks like they can’t, we’ll attach a lien on the property.”

Husek was not home this week while public works crews embarked on the laborious task of removing several years’ worth of debris. Wellington said that, to his knowledge, the homeowner was out of the state.

This week was not the first time the city had been called to clean up the Husek property. In 1994, when the home was owned by Husek’s father, John Husek, the city also conducted a court-ordered cleanup.

“We have a lot of properties in the city that are not being properly maintained, but nothing quite like this,” Wellington said. “Although I did get a few extra calls [Thursday] about homes we may or may not have to check out.”

The city of Bangor has a property maintenance code that requires property to remain safe, clean and sanitary, the code enforcement officer said. The Husek property violated city ordinances but also violated the state’s junkyard statute. Some neighbors even complained recently of rats on the property.

“In most instances, we’ll give people a warning and they will clean up their property,” Wellington said. “The Huseks took a different road.”

The city first filed a court complaint in 2007 against the homeowners. That order was appealed twice and denied twice. In both appeals, the homeowners defended themselves.

Wellington, whose office is in charge of enforcing city ordinances, said the phenomenon of gathering or hoarding materials is a real program.

“For some, it’s a legitimate mental health issue,” he said. “I’ve been in places where there are just piles and piles and a narrow walkway to and from rooms. Some people don’t even realize how bad it gets.”

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