Bath prepares to evict couple from condemned house; BIW workers offer to fix the roof

Posted Dec. 20, 2012, at 4:41 p.m.

BATH, Maine — It might take a court order to compel Alan and Yvonne Orchard to leave their condemned home at 45 Windjammer Way.

And by that time, a caring midcoast community could just have the home repaired enough so they can get it up to code.

After a special City Council meeting Wednesday night, however, Code Enforcement Officer Scott Davis said he will serve the Orchards an eviction order dated Dec. 29.

Prior to the meeting, the couple was noncommittal as to whether they would test that order. They stayed for the first 20 minutes, listening to a rehash of the conditions of their home, then left.

Their advocate, Jeanelle Merrill-Pyy, was anything but uncertain following the meeting.

“I know they’re going to refuse to leave,” Merrill-Pyy said. “If they refuse to leave, it goes to the judicial system.”

Davis said the city would immediately seek a court order to evict the Orchards. That could take “a few weeks,” he said.

Larry LaVallee, David Foster and others from the second shift at Bath Iron Works stand at the ready. They could get a crew together to remove the roof, which has a tarp-covered hole in it, and actually secure the building for the winter, he said.

“We build ships,” LaVallee said. “We can build houses.”

Karen Ross has set up an account at Norway Savings Bank to help the Orchards, who have no money to pay rent if they’re forced to move. Ross said that anyone interested in contributing can do so at branch offices in Brunswick [Cook’s Corner and Maine Street], Freeport, Topsham, Yarmouth and elsewhere.

Councilors made it clear they take no joy in compelling the Orchards to leave their home. They established May 1 as a deadline to obtain permits for repairs to the building, and Nov. 1 for the Orchards to remove the building, should that be their choice.

They left the eviction decision to Davis, who said he had discussed it with city officials earlier in the day.

Alan Orchard, who uses a walker, and his wife got off the third-floor elevator at City Hall well before the meeting began.

Alan Orchard reiterated what he has been saying all along: He and his wife have no means of paying rent.

“People don’t understand that,” he said. “We don’t have money.”

As City Solicitor Roger Therriault read the disposition, and explained that the city would “make every effort to give them time to remove their belongings,” Alan Orchard had heard enough.

“Give me my walker,” he told his wife. “I want to leave.”

Councilor David Sinclair complained that the Orchards have not been involved enough in the process, and asked fellow councilors if they believed the couple was not competent.

“It’s the city’s job to make sure they have information,” Sinclair said.

Sinclair then asked Merrill-Pyy to return to the podium.

“The Orchards are not in the same socioeconomic class as any of you sitting at these tables,” said Merrill-Pyy, a social scientist. “What you say goes above their heads, and it triggers a fear response. That is where I come into play. … Due process has been violated. Any judge would see that, in my opinion.”

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