April 24, 2018
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Public hearing scheduled to determine fate of dilapidated Brewer house

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
The structures at 4 Somerset St. have been condemned by the City of Brewer.
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BREWER, Maine — The City Council is holding a public hearing Tuesday night to determine if an abandoned dilapidated residence near the old middle school is a dangerous structure.

“[Code enforcement officer] Ben Breadmore got a call from the police department saying they were concerned because persons were living in the property other than the owners,” City Manager Steve Bost said Monday, referring to the building at 4 Somerset St.

Breadmore gained access to the small brown house, through the trustee of the deceased homeowner, Frederick Devlin, known locally as “Mr. Fred.”

“They found mold and other issues and ended up boarding up the property,” Bost said.

The public hearing is to determine if the dwelling is “structurally unsafe, unsanitary; constitutes a fire hazard; is unsuitable or improper for the use of occupancy to which it is put; [and] constitutes a hazard to health or safety” the council notice states.

The home is in foreclosure, according to the city’s assessing office.

Brewer resident Jeffrey Hamaday said Devlin was a good friend who appointed him executor to his estate before Devlin died at his home March 21, 2008, after a long illness.

“It was a property owned by the bank and Fred and Karen Devlin,” Hamaday said. “Karen died, and Fred continued on in the property. When the mortgage company repossessed the house, the judge said the paperwork was not right.”

Hamaday and City Solicitor Joel Dearborn acknowledged that the paperwork for the home still said it was owned by Karen and Fred Devlin.

“This is where it gets a little bit murky,” Dearborn said.

With both homeowners deceased, ownership of the home falls to either their two adult children or Fred Devlin’s second wife, who has remarried since his death five years ago.

“She has no desire to have any interest in the property,” Dearborn said.

“In his will, he left her the right to live there as long as she paid the taxes and maintained it,” Hamaday said. “She couldn’t afford the taxes and maintenance.”

The Devlins’ daughter, who is approximately 20, also “tried to take over the house but with a $62,000 mortgage in arrears by about four or five years, she couldn’t do it,” the trustee said. “Finally the property got run down so bad the city condemned it.”

Both Devlin children, the mortgage company and Devlin’s second wife have been notified about the public hearing. The city would like the dilapidated building removed.

“The public hearing gives the property owners an opportunity to correct the defects,” Dearborn said.

Once the public hearing has ended, City Councilors will take up an order about pursuing court action to acquire and then demolish the property, the city solicitor said.

“The ultimate decision will be made by a judge,” Dearborn said.

The city removed a dilapidated building on East Summer Street in late July but never held a public hearing because “the city had acquired title [to the property] by tax liens,” Dearborn said.

Hamaday said the building on Somerset Street should be demolished.

“It is not only an eyesore, it’s a health hazard,” he said.

The public hearing is scheduled to be held at the beginning of the council meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.

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