Board rules 15 Walker Street a dangerous building

 

  This house at 15 Walker Street, Bridgton, was ruled a dangerous building on Tuesday by Bridgton Selectmen.

This house at 15 Walker Street, Bridgton, was ruled a dangerous building on Tuesday by Bridgton Selectmen.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Bridgton Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday to declare an abandoned house at 15 Walker Street a dangerous building after a brief public hearing in which the owner did not show.

Property owner Dean Palli, who lives in Wellesley, Mass., told Code Enforcement Officer Robbie Baker he couldn’t make the hearing, but said he has plans to renovate the building next spring so it can be occupied. For years, the large vacant house has been subject to repeated break-ins, with evidence it is used as a local hangout.

Baker said Palli told him he secured the house with new locks. But Police Chief Richard Stillman said he visited the house on Tuesday, “And it’s wide open again. There’s broken glass everywhere, it’s a mess.”

Baker told the board he recommended they evoke the state’s dangerous buildings statute to give the town legal authority to have the home demolished if Palli fails to do enough to solve the problem.

“My fear is that there’ll be plywood secured to the windows” to stop the break-ins, “and that would not be an attractive fix to the problem,” Baker said.

Town Manager Bob Peabody said the dangerous building determination needs to be made to pave the way for the legal process to follow. If the work, as promised by the owner, is not done by a certain date, the town then has the option of filing a complaint in Superior Court to seek an order of demolition.

Walker Street resident Rick Whelchel testified at the hearing that having an unsecured, unsightly house on the street has affected property values in the neighborhood and the perception of safety.

“I’ve been here since 2009, and nothing’s been done,” Whelchel said. “They can say they’re going to renovate, but how long is this going to drag on?” He said whenever there’s snow on the ground he can see footprints leading to any number of ways that people are getting inside.

“I have no idea what’s going on inside the building, but you can sort of speculate,” Whelchel said.

When the problem was initially discussed a few months ago, Town Manager Bob Peabody said Palli owes $1,975 in unpaid taxes and that the property will be in legal jeopardy in December. He said the town would only become the owner by default if taxes continue to go unpaid and the lien is foreclosed on. The town has assessed the building at a value of $107,649, and the land at $36,037.

 

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