Webbs Mills resident wants foreclosed home gone
By Dawn De Busk
CASCO — A dozen residents of Webbs Mills Village brought forward concerns about a foreclosed home with hazardous pine trees.
The home is located on Route 11 on the Pine Hill Road side. The uninhabited building is kitty-corner from the Plummer Memorial Park, a small, wetlands park with a gazebo for the public.
The Webbs Mills Village residents asked if the town could purchase the property and then have the structure demolished.
The citizens brought their request — and a signed petition — to the Casco Board of Selectmen on Tuesday.
Ultimately, the board decided not to use taxpayers’ money to buy the property. The board was not open to the idea of using dangerous building funds to raze the house. However, the latter solution might be palatable if the homeowners provided the majority of the funding for the cost of demolishing the building.
Lastly, the town’s code enforcement officer will inspect the building; and if the condition of the structure poses a hazard, the new owners can be requested to fix that.
The biggest hurdle for the board assisting the Webbs Mills Village residents is that the property is being foreclosed on by the lending institution, and not through the tax lien process.
This apprehension was expressed by Chairman Holly Hancock.
“It is not held in a tax lien by the town. It is held by the bank,” she said. “The piece of property does not have value to the taxpayers as space,” Hancock said. “I think this is challenge. I don’t think it is going to work,” she said.
At this point in time, Webbs Mills residents said a real estate agency sign had been erected.
Selectman Grant Plummer suggested the citizens contact the real estate agent who is handling the sale of this property.
“Strike up an agreement with the two abutters to split the frontage, and help the town with the cost of removing the building,” Plummer said.
“On the other side, it cannot be more than four feet from the house. It’s an old foundation, a big structure,” he said to one of the abutters, Joanne Painter.
“Sadly, Joanne, there are probably 20 of them (foreclosed and hazardous homes) around town that we could have this conversation about,” Plummer said.
“If I was living next door, I would do anything I could to make sure it doesn’t continue (standing) like that,” he said.
“I wish I had the easy answer. The easy answer is not a $60,000 bill to the Town of Casco,” Plummer said.
Casco Town Manager Dave Morton agreed to pass resident’s concerns about the condition of the structure to the town’s code enforcement officer (CEO).
“The best I can do is I can ask the CEO and get his opinion. If it’s dangerous, we can require the new owners to remove the trees,” Morton said. “I made note to the CEO to red flag the property of safety issues and health issues,” he said.
Resident Joanne Painter responded to the plan of action on the town’s part.
“Okay, we have gained something,” she said.
Selectman Thomas Peaslee said, “Contact the broker who is listing the property.”
Painter spoke to the board outlining some of the problems with the foreclosed house.
“Last Friday, an insurance person was taking pictures,” she said, adding that she learned that the home has frost damage.
The previous owners “did not have the wherewithal to pump water the past couple winters. Despite this summer’s drought, there is still standing water in the basement,” she said.
“There are really tall pine trees planted as a hedge in the ‘70s,” she said, adding most of those pines were cut down.
“The last three pines are standing. They can blow over and can smash the house on the property or the end of my house.” Painter said.
Chairman Hancock responded.
“Again, I understand the need by the neighbors. But from the town’s perspective, I don’t know if it is valuable enough for space (especially since) it doesn’t adjoin something else,” she said.
“See what kind of offer that you and the abutters can make,” she said.