June 25, 2018
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Rockland issues condemnation notice to former owner of home that city took over

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — The city’s code enforcement office issued a condemnation notice Tuesday to the occupant of a two-unit residence that the city took ownership of earlier this year for nonpayment of property taxes.

The notice indicated that the occupant, who is working with the city to regain ownership, must make needed repairs or the building will be condemned and she will be evicted.

The former owner, who continues to live in the building, said Wednesday that she hopes to reacquire the property so that she can sell it.

The code officer hand delivered the notice Tuesday to Lynne Lofman, who owned the duplex at 14 State St. The city acquired the property in March when a lien placed on the property expired and it automatically was foreclosed on by Rockland.

One unit of the two-unit building was condemned by the code officer in October 2009 because of safety violations. That unit has not been occupied since that action. Lofman, who had owned the property since 1985, continues to live in the other unit.

City Attorney Kevin Beal said any re-conveyance of the property to the former owner would be decided by the city council. He pointed out that the city council’s policy and practice has been to work with former owners to allow them to get their properties returned.

He also said that the council has required those former owners to have work done before the property will be given back if safety violations are found.

The city also requires former owners to pay off not only the taxes that led to the foreclosures but any taxes assessed in the ensuing two years, interest, any filing costs incurred by the city and a small amount to reimburse the city for adding properties to its insurance policy.

The property taxes alone for 2011, 2012 and 2013 total $5,029.

Lofman said Wednesday she will try to sell the property at well below what it is worth to meet the city’s order. The city has the 2,200-square-foot home with one-seventh of an acre assessed at $105,000.

Beal said the council could return ownership of the property in tandem with Lofman’s plans to sell the property.

The notice given to her Tuesday requires a lengthy list of work to be done or the entire property would be condemned and she would have to vacate the residence.

By May 8, all garbage must be removed from a back room of the home and properly disposed of, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be installed per city directions and she must discontinue the improper use of extension cords.

By May 13, exits must be made safe and code compliant. Code Officer John Root’s inspection of the property found no safe exit or entrance in the residence. The back deck needs to be repaired, or replaced by a new deck or by properly built steps, and the front steps must be repaired.

Also by May 13, all trash in the basement must be removed and all broken or missing windows must be replaced.

By May 20, she must present a plan to address other safety violations that were found.

Of the properties taken by the city in March, the State Street property was the only one occupied.

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