SANDOWN – Town officials recently had to evict a woman and her child from their home on Elizabeth Road for the severely dilapidated nature of the structure, and at the Monday, April 14 selectmen’s meeting, a neighbor came in to see what else the town can do to clean up the area.
Though commiserating with the clearly frustrated resident, the selectmen explained that the town’s hands were largely tied because it was private property and up to date on tax payments.
“We’ve done what the town is legally responsible to do,” said selectman chair Hans Nicolaisen.
But neighbor Kristy O’Brien was not much placated by the answers she was given Monday night. Nicolaisen stopped her speaking a couple of times when she interrupted others or became impassioned.
O’Brien remarked that for eight years she had seen the property get worse and stated that she was told by town officials in the past that there wasn’t much to be done, as many of her concerns were aesthetic judgment calls. She said she was told, “One man’s tire is another man’s planter.”
But the home has deteriorated in recent years and last week fire chief Bill Tapley, code enforcement officer Bob Bogosh and health officer Ed Mencis submitted an order to vacate the premises. The area is now posted as “no trespassing.”
Everyone agreed it was a difficult thing to do, and that the owner of the home was a nice woman, trying to make the place right but with little means to do so.
O’Brien presented pictures of what her home looks at across the street and said there may be safety and environmental concerns with the lot. She had pictures of trash, debris and other materials and questioned if they posed a hazard for well water.
O’Brien said she had been renting out the property, but the renter recently moved out. She’s looking to sell her home, but said that Realtors will not touch it because of the low potential for resale. And to further frustrate the situation, like many homes in town, the value of her home was recently lowered in a town-wide revaluation, but the tax bill went up.
O’Brien asked whether there was any potential for relief from her and her neighbors’ tax bills, given the situation. She was directed to file an abatement.
Tapley said that making someone leave their house was a difficult thing to do, but collapse was imminent. He added that the town was doing the best it could with the situation. Bogosh concurred, saying that everyone had been working hard to right the matter.
There was some concern about trespassers on the property, but town administrator Lynne Blaisdell explained that the owner of the property is still allowed to go there, along with anyone she authorizes; they just can’t enter the structure.
Police make regular drive-bys, police officer Rich Buco explained, and will arrest anyone going into the house. Neighbors were asked to call the
police if they see activity within the structure.
Blaisdell said work was being done behind the scenes to get the woman some help but she did not want to explain the matter further, as the owner was not present Monday and nothing was yet certain. She added that a potential solution may ask the community to pitch in.