Code officer to deal with dangerous buildings

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — For most people the response is repulsion: The sight of a dilapidated, abandoned building that is easily visible from a main road.

For most folks, a building with a roof falling in and overgrown weeds playing the role of a fence does not fall into the category of a scenic view. Some would call it an eyesore.

In addition to not being aesthetically pleasing, such a structure could become a tempting ‘playground’ for children to explore or young adults to stake as a party zone.

And, the potential for injury concerns many in this community.

Whether in the main view or off on some side road, an abandoned home on private property poses hazards to public safety.

Most often it is an abutter who makes the phone calls to the town to see what can be done.

Casco Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) Don Murphy has decided to respond to those complaints.

Murphy recently updated the Casco Board of Selectmen about the town’s initial steps toward disposing of dangerous buildings.

The first structure being considered for disposal is located near the corner of Route 11 and Cooks Mills Road. Portions of the roof have collapsed, and that damage is visible from both roads. Yellow caution tape encircles the premises.

There will be a public hearing on Oct. 23 for that home and property. The public hearing will begin at 7 p.m. at the Casco Community Center.

Murphy outlined the best means of disposal for the structure off Route 11.

“The problem with burning is that it is in close proximity to other homes. Abutters have come in with concerns,” he said.

“That is why I recommended the building should be demolished and removed using a yard dumpster,” he said.

The legally required process of disposing of dangerous structures on private property is a long one. First, the town notified the property owners through an official letter. Most often, tracking down the owner proves to be a difficult task.

The public hearing allows involved parties to appear before the town’s selectmen. Also, it provides time between notification and demolition for the previous residents to remove anything they wish to salvage, Murphy said.

According to Town Manager Dave Morton the previous residents will be allowed access to their personal belongings.

“There is no prohibition from being on their property. We would encourage them to retrieve their belongings,” he said.

“We should go through this dangerous building process because owners never removed things,” Morton explained.

Several structures are on the disposal list; and the town is going through the process of legal notification before setting public hearings for those dangerous buildings.

Earlier this spring, Murphy had already identified many of the dangerous buildings around town. But it was not until late summer that a cat-hoarding case brought to the town’s attention another unsound structure. On that property, an addition to the barn had been rendered unstable and threated the resident’s safety, according to Murphy.

“We are looking into the removal of the collapsed addition that is attached to the barn,” he said.

“Official engineers could come out to the house, and see how to make it more safe,” he said.

“We will be keeping track of it,” Murphy said.


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