Town to start over on derelict properties

By Beth A. Birmingham | May 16, 2017
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Town Manager Julie Keizer, left, and the Waldoboro Board of Selectmen at a May 9 meeting. Shown, from left, are Chairman Clint Collarmore, Vice Chair Jann Minzy, Abden Simmons, Robert Butler and Katie Winchenbach.

Waldoboro — New Town Manager Julie Keizer announced at her first Board of Selectmen meeting May 9 that a project the town of Waldoboro has been working on for nearly 15 years, and thought to be coming to a conclusion, will have to start over from scratch.

"The process started off flawed," Keizer said in a telephone interview May 12, referring to the town's effort to bring several properties into compliance with its ordinances and state laws. She said simply placing a notice in the local newspapers regarding upcoming public hearings on the properties in question did not cover the process properly.

The properties at 762 Back Cove Road, 150 Depot St. and 992 Winslows Mills Road have been on the town's radar as failing to comply with town Land Use Ordinances and several state statutes.

Correspondence dates back to Oct. 29, 2002, on the Back Cove property and Feb. 20, 2007, on the Winslows Mills Road structures.

On Aug. 16, 2016, the board held public hearings on the two latter properties. John Call, an heir of the WInslows Mills property, was present. It was voted for parties involved to meet at the site and determine a plan of action "consistent with State Statute," with a report deadline of no later than Sept. 27.

Regarding the Back Cove property owned by Phoebe Boyington, the board authorized then-Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs to develop a Request for Proposals based upon the appropriate studies to determine actions to be taken to bring the property back to a healthy and safe condition.

An estimate received from Gordon Libby Forest Products Inc. totaled $7,000 for demolition and removal of a mobile home, as well as a camper, three vehicles and miscellaneous refuse on the site.

In January of this year, the board determined that the town had met all requirements to notify the Registry of Deeds of an order for demolition of buildings on the two properties and said the owners had 30 days to appeal.

Upon hearing nothing, the board then approved the findings and ordered the serving of notice by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, which was done in mid-March.

At its April 11 meeting, the board recommended demolition of the property at 150 Depot St. after hearing nothing from owner Robert Lemieux.

Keizer said, in reviewing the procedures taken prior to her arrival, it appears the property owners were notified by mail. However, she said, notice must be served in accordance with Maine Rules of Civil Procedure -- in person.

She explained there are eight steps in the process:

-- determine any mortgage or lien holders or interested parties -- which requires a title search;

-- send a letter explaining the town has declared the property a dangerous building;

-- schedule a public hearing;

-- personally serve notice of the hearing on property owners and all other interested parties, and record the notice in the registry;

-- hold the public hearing;

-- selectmen issue an order of what needs to be done to make the building safe;

-- serve notice upon the owner and record it in the registry;

-- then, if there is no appeal within 30 days, the board can have demolition completed.

Keizer said step four is where the process was "tripped up."

To date, the town has spent $797.98 and many hours on the lengthy project.

Upon review with the town attorney, Mary Costigan, of Bernstein & Shur of Portland, Keizer said, "I decided to clear it up and start the process over."

As of May 12, taxes owed to the town by the property owners are $774.50 for Back Cove, $858.94 for Winslows Mills, and $883.56 for Depot Street.

The properties are valued at $47,000, $56,000, and $49,000, respectively.

In all three cases, all cleanup costs will be paid by the property owners in the form of a special tax or lien. The properties will remain in the possession of the owners.

"Safety is our paramount concern," Keizer said.

The board's next meeting will be Tuesday, May 23, at 6 p.m. at the Town Office.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

The property at 762 Back Cove Road in Waldoboro, owned by Phoebe Boyington, is one of three derelict properties the town is attempting to clean up. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Buildings at 992 Winslows Mills Road, owned by the heirs of Charles Call. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
A boarded-up building on the premises of 150 Depot St., owned by Robert Lemieux. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
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