June 23, 2018
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Newport to demolish vacant building before it falls onto neighboring home

By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

NEWPORT, Maine — A crumbling, vacant house on Adams Street will be torn down before it has a chance to fall onto a neighboring house, according to town officials.

The Board of Selectmen convened an emergency meeting on Tuesday afternoon and voted 3-0 to demolish the house at 9 Adams St.

A woman who lives next to the house contacted the town to report the cellar wall of the neighboring house was caving in.

Town Manager James Ricker said Elizabeth Page called him Monday to report that the wall had deteriorated throughout the day. By 3 p.m., the wall had completely caved in, he said.

Page’s home is only 12 feet from the crumbling building.

“There’s only two corners holding that entire structure up and those corners are breaking away and already tilted in,” said Ricker. “The front of the building is already sinking into the ground on the front. There’s no support post in the middle of this structure.”

“It’s a house that is absolutely not livable,” he said later. “As a matter of fact, it’s twisted in such a way right now that you can’t close the door.”

Pieces of shingles are scattered across the lawn of the property and most of the cement foundation blocks have fallen into the basement, which is visible from the street.

Ricker said the building has been abandoned for at least six years. The previous owner had voluntarily relinquished custody of the property to a mortgage company, but “that’s where the paper trail stops.”

According to its website, GMAC Mortgage is no longer servicing existing mortgages. Ricker said he has not been able to get in touch with the owner of the property. No taxes have been paid on the property in the last two years.

However, that doesn’t prevent the town from tearing the building down. The town’s attorney was contacted, said Ricker, and the town has the authority to demolish the building.

“Municipal officials have a legal right to abate a dangerous building. In this case, remove the dangerous building and after the fact, notify the owners and place a lien to cover all of our costs on the property,” said Ricker.

Ricker said he wanted to act quickly before the home toppled over onto Page’s house, which is next to the railroad tracks.

“If another train goes by and if those broken cinder blocks give way, it could be on the side of this woman’s house if it falls,” he said.

A demolition crew will be brought in Wednesday morning to tear down the building, he said. He estimates the total cost of the project to be $4,120.

“[The cost] could go up because we have no idea what’s in that house,” said Ricker. “It’s vacant. It’s completely stripped, but I wouldn’t want to go in and put the extra 200 pounds on the left side of it to be quite honest with you.”

Carl Gray, a neighbor who lives on the north side of the house, said he’s happy the town will tear down the house.

“It’s an eyesore,” he said.

Page was not available for comment.

The project also calls for a maple tree on the north side of the building to be cut down.

A notice that a lien has been placed on the property for the cost of removal will be given to the holding company that owns the property when it is found.

“We’re going to encourage them to simply sign the property over to the town,” said Ricker. “At which point, we’ll put it out to bid to cover our costs.”

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