Rockland council OKs demolition of State Street duplex

By Stephen Betts | Jul 12, 2018
Photo by: Stephen Betts 13 State St. in Rockland

The Rockland City Council gave the go-ahead Monday evening, July 9, to demolishing a two-unit residence on State Street.

The council voted 3-2 to spend up to $10,000 to demolish 13 State St. The city will recoup its money when the property is sold by placing an additional assessment on the land equal to the city's expense.

The council voted unanimously Dec. 4 to declare 13 State St. an abandoned and dangerous building and gave the mortgage holder 60 days to submit plans for how it will immediately repair or demolish the building.

The city received its first complaint about the two-unit State Street building in July 2016 and sent a formal notice of violation to the owner in February 2017. The residential property has been vacant for at least a few years, according to the city.

The house at 13 State St. is a duplex, built in about 1870, with nearly 1,900 square feet of living space situated on one seventh of an acre. The property had been purchased in July 2004 for $115,000 by Theodore Eaton, who is still formally the owner.

But the house has not been lived in for several years.

Mortgage holder PHH Mortgage Corp. of Bowie, Md., has been paying the property taxes to preserve its interest in the property.

The mortgage holder's agent sent the city an email in March stating that repairs would cost $46,084. The council met with a representative of the company in May, but City Manager Tom Luttrell said there has been little contact with the firm since then.

The city has the property and buildings combined assessed at $125,000.

The supporting timbers on the southeast side of the house are decaying badly, there was significant black and white mold growing inside from a leaky roof, portions of the cellar are open, allowing rodents and small animals to enter, according to an August 2017 report by the Code Office.

At the July 9 City Council meeting, Councilor Adam Ackor said numerous contractors have gone through the building and the universal view is that the building must be torn down.

"It's time to act and help the neighborhood," Ackor said.

He said the mortgage holder has been playing a game and he has no faith it will take action.

Earlier in the year, Mayor Valli Geiger criticized the bank, pointing out that the building has been vacant for years and the bank has not taken responsibility for maintaining it. She said the city has numerous properties in the community where banks are not keeping up buildings.

Councilor Ed Glaser said July 9 he was loathe to tear down a house.

Glaser and Councilor Lisa Westkaemper voted against spending the money for demolition.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Cynthia Mary Anderson | Jul 13, 2018 17:56

The mortgage holders have allowed the buildings to fall into disrepair.  They are a health hazard and an eyesore.  Would you want to live in a house full of mold and rodents and who knows what else???  Would you buy a different house in the neighborhood ~ next to it or across the street?  I wouldn't.  Clean up these eyesores.  A building constructed in the 1800's did not have the building codes and other appropriate safety regulations that are in place in today's world.  If you turn these delapitated neighborhoods into something pleasant to live in, you would likely generate more tax monies than you would ever recieve from these hopeless wrecks that have gone way past their time in this century.  I say get rid of them!  The more the better!

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Jul 13, 2018 08:32

Screwed up!

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Jul 13, 2018 07:59

The city has a new real estate firm "Rockland Real Estate" .  Our councilors appear to be in error when they say " We are not in the  Real Estate business".  Several buildings have been torn down (at the City's expense) in the last 12 months.  Would like to know how many have new "tax generating" properties on them ? Also let's find out How much of your money the city has spent demolishing these buildings and how much of that has been returned.

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Jul 12, 2018 16:14

There seems to be something amiss in this tale. Why does the city take a reactive vs. a proactive stance in these ongoing abandoned houses, as it appears they do?  On the one hand, the city needs affordable housing for its residents. On the other hand, the city allows properties to become uninhabitable over many years. Why should taxpayers $ go toward demolition of these properties?

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