D-F select board commences dangerous building proceedings on two properties
DOVER-FOXCROFT — The first step toward rectifying a pair of deteriorating properties, at 70 Union Street and 130 Pleasant Street respectively, was taken with the Dover-Foxcroft Select Board voting to commence a local dangerous building proceeding for each during a meeting on Monday evening, Oct. 23. Public hearings on the two properties are planned for the Dec. 11 meeting, should a plan to remedy the issues at each site not be reached before then.
“Both are in really rough shape,” Select Chairperson Tom Lizotte said.
Code Enforcement Officer Brian Gaudet said the 70 Union Street home has been deteriorating for years and has broken windows and a barn and shed starting to tip over. He said the owner passed away about a year ago and the heir cannot afford to make repairs or have the structure demolished.
In his report, Building Inspector Ken Savucci wrote about his Aug. 3 property inspection, “I found that the structure has settled significantly over the years due to foundation failure most likely from a negative drainage condition or no existing perimeter drainage system. Due to this condition, it’s my opinion that this building is not a candidate for any rehab work and should be considered for demolition.”
Gaudet said it is possible for the town to have the home demolished and then would recoup the costs with a special property lien.
He said 130 Pleasant Street has a roof and garage that are falling down and has a sinking front porch, and the code enforcement officer said he has heard reports of rats there. The property is owned by a bank in a southern state and letters have been ignored
“What I would like to do is force their hand and start the process,” Gaudet said, saying he has not been granted permission to go inside as he would need to do to determine if the home is structurally sound or not.
The code enforcement officer suggested coming back in December with public hearings on the two properties. This would give Gaudet time to try to make contact again to see if the owners can come up with a plan if they are willing to make a difference.
For 70 Union Street and 130 Pleasant Street, the select board passed motions indicating town officials have reason to believe the buildings are dangerous and to authorize Town Manager Jack Clukey and his designee(s) to commence local dangerous building proceedings.
When asked, Gaudet said 130 Pleasant Street is up to date on tax payments. He was unsure about 70 Union Street but said the property is not close to being tax-acquired by the town.
In late July the select board approved a dangerous building order for a building at 11 Grange Street after determining it is in disrepair and cannot be rehabilitated due to a variety of issues. A 60-day period for appeal before demolition can begin has expired.
Gaudet said the now bank-owned 11 Grange Street now has a for sale sign. He would like to put the demolition work out to bid and the select board agreed to this.
During the summer 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. Salvucci wrote 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 other business, Lizotte said he and members of a dam steering committee recently toured the dam site in Howland where the Piscataquis River meets the Penobscot River.
He said the site has a fish passage that looks like another natural branch of the river. Lizotte said there is an “underwater dam” that helps with water level control and lets fish through.
Under the auspices of a steering committee, a partners team is working to consider the various possibilities and everything tying into the Mayo Mill Dam downtown on the Piscataquis River — such as an assessment of the physical condition of the structure and property, an inventory, and being in compliance with all regulations — to be included in a community-based feasibility study to help determine the long-term future of the dam.
More than a decade and a half has passed since the Mayo Mill Dam has produced energy. In the years since the municipal-owned structure has remained in place but it is only deteriorating with the continual water flow.
Lizotte said the steering committee is scheduled to meet next at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9, to discuss if hydropower is feasible at the Dover-Foxcroft dam or not.
The dam redevelopment committee will make a recommendation on the site to the board, such as how to repair the dam or phase the structure out. Before this happens, another public forum will be held before the end of the year, following up a session held in late June.
In his report, Clukey wrote the town’s congressional funding request for Lincoln Street Bridge is still pending. If successful, the town will have an opportunity to put together a project for 2024-25.
In July U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, vice chairperson of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that she advanced $1,455,000 in Congressionally Directed Spending for the Lincoln Street bridge project in Dover-Foxcroft in the Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security appropriations bill.
“Not everybody would notice it’s a bridge,” Clukey said, as a small stream goes under Lincoln Street and several buildings and into the Piscataquis River.
He said another priority bridge project for the town is Autumn Avenue. The town applied for DEP funding back in 2020 to assist with this but were unsuccessful due to the program’s classification criteria. Clukey said the town is starting the field work and permitting on this bridge to give it the potential to be a late 2024 or 2025 project.
In his report Clukey wrote the police department has finally reached full staff after having a vacancy for over a year. Another reserve officer is expected to be added in several weeks once their certification is complete. In January the department expects to be sending an officer to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy for the 18-week certification and being at full staff will make this process much easier.
Chief Seth Burnes is working on scheduling a training program that would bring some leadership and resiliency training to the Dover-Foxcroft and other area departments. This is expected to be held in early December.