Police & Fire

Dover-Foxcroft Select Board deems Grange Street property as dangerous building

DOVER-FOXCROFT — A building at 11 Grange Street has been determined to be in disrepair and cannot be rehabilitated due to a variety of issues. As a result the Dover-Foxcroft Select Board approved a dangerous building order and decision during a meeting on Monday evening, which includes a 60-day period for appeal before demolition can begin.

Code Enforcement Officer Brian Gaudet said the property on the road located across from the Northern Light Mayo Hospital campus has had on-going issues for years.  Gaudet said the former owner told him he would let the building go to the bank because he could not afford to fix it up, and then COVID hit which delayed any potential action on the property.

Gaudet said in February the fire department was called in for a reported water problem, caused by broken pipes in the basement and possibly another broken pipe on the second floor which was reported by tenants who were unable to confirm due to no one being able to enter the apartment. Since then the renters have all exited the building.

The Dover & Foxcroft Water District was called in to shut off the water until repairs could be made, and as of July 24 no upgrades had been made.

Gaudet said on the premises he noticed a damaged corner on the foundation, broken windows, rot on the exterior of the building, and that the basement was unsecured to the elements. He said his office has received reports from neighbors that 11 Grange Street may be unsafe, and he and members of the police department have witnessed some of these.

Saying he has been unable to get in contact with the bank or realtor trying to get authorization to inspect the building, Gaudet said, “I personally believe the building shouldn’t be lived in.”

“I think we’re at the point where I would like to put a dangerous building order on it,” he said, which would pave the way for demolition.

In a report building inspector Ken Salvucci said an exterior inspection revealed much of the roof ledge is decayed, the exterior stairway is not properly supported with any mechanical fasteners and would not meet today’s building code, and the structure is sagging where previous foundation repairs had been made.

“In my opinion, renovations that would include a new foundation along with unknown structural problems would not be cost effective,” Salvucci wrote.

Select Chairperson Tom Lizotte said the building dates back to the 19th century, when it once housed Foxcroft Academy students.

“I don’t think it should be left standing, it sounds dangerous and is a public health concern,” Selectperson Joel Vail said.

Attorney Jon Pottle of Eaton Peabody drafted a dangerous building order which includes the 60-day window for the owner — a bank in this instance — to file an appeal. He said the bank would receive the approved order.

“If the property owner does not follow through, the town has the authority to implement action to remedy conditions,” Pottle said. He said the municipality can take measures to recover its expenses, such as through a lien.

In other business, Town Manager Jack Clukey was authorized to award a planning partnership initiative to Gorrill Palmer provided the Maine Department of Transportation and the consultant can make the necessary revisions to the project scope and cost.

Clukey said Gorrill Palmer completed a 2020 downtown traffic and mobility study and the firm and MDOT would be working on modifications to bring a downtown project to within the MDOT budget of $90,000 (Dover-Foxcroft would contribute an additional $10,000).

Dover-Foxcroft is gearing up to study and plan improvements to its downtown, with an emphasis on pedestrian safety and reducing traffic congestion. Town leaders have been working with the MDOT on addressing time-sensitive feasibility studies and locally initiated planning outside MDOT’s annual work cycle, according to the agency’s website.

The study’s primary focus is to improve active transportation connectivity, along with pedestrian crossings and streetscape enhancements, according to a document detailing the scope of the project. Most of the focus areas mention wayfinding and improving sidewalks, which includes making sure they are accessible to those with disabilities.

It outlines nine priorities, which include reviewing the 2020 Dover-Foxcroft Urban Area Study and 2003 downtown master plan, along with updating cost estimates for both. Those involved will reevaluate the Monument Square intersection and other locations for future highway treatment to account for reconstruction, pedestrian safety changes, and utilities and drainage.

The study will also analyze active transportation in the study area, work on the Route 7 entrance into town, conduct a limited parking analysis, and finally, coordinate with organizations handling the Mayo Mill Dam project. The partnership includes assessing future traffic volume and providing a 2045 forecast based on data and development or land use changes underway.

“I think everyone is  aware we’ve spent some time looking at Harrison Avenue,” Clukey said, particularly at the intersection with Autumn Avenue given a recent youth bicyclist/vehicle accident. He said the MDOT recommends making this a 4-way stop similar to the Autumn/Morton Avenue intersection a short ways away.

“That is really going to go a long way to slowing down traffic on Harrison Avenue,” Clukey said. 

The town manager said late last month the steering committee for the Mayo Mill Dam project held a very well attended public forum at the Central Hall Commons. “It was just encouraging, we had a lot of people in the community engaged in what’s happening,” Clukey said, with another forum planned for the fall.

He said Dani Buschmann has moved from the code enforcement office to finance to serve as assistant treasurer to work primarily with payroll, accounts payable, and human resources. An assistant’s position with code/health and assessing is now being advertised.

Clukey also said the Dover-Foxcroft Shiretown Homecoming parade is planned for Saturday, Aug. 5 with lineup at 9:30 a.m. and departure from the Piscataquis Valley Fairgrounds at 10 a.m. The theme will focus on Foxcroft Academy’s Bicentennial.

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