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Two private properties in Gill facing condemnation

  • The abandoned house at 34 French King Highway. The owner was granted a extension to submit a plan to remedy the property. recorder file photo



Recorder Staff
Friday, March 17, 2017

GILL — Two houses in states of disrepair faced condemnation hearings on Monday, when the Board of Health granted approval of remodeling plans or a time extension to the two owners.

One property at 35 Riverview Drive and the other at 34 French King Highway were discussed. Taylor Newton, the 35 Riverview Drive owner, came to the board with a contractor and an outline that explained what renovations will be done with an October deadline. The Gill Board of Health signed off on his plan.

The plan puts the cost of renovating the house and bringing it up to code would be about $30,000.

The owner of the 34 French King Highway property, Veronica Phaneuf, requested additional time for to craft a plan and the board granted her an extension into April to present a plan for either renovation or demolition.

Glen Ayers, the regional health agent serving Gill, said that the 34 French King Highway property has been a long-term issue in the town. The house has been vacant for about 20 years, according to Ayers. He said the damage to the home is extensive and renovations would likely be costly.

The town and the county are getting help from the state’s Attorney General office with the most extreme abandoned buildings.

Ayers said that abandoned and possibly tax delinquent properties are common in the county and something his office deals with regularly.

State involvement

The Abandoned Housing Initiative is an 8-year-old state program that helps towns remedy abandoned buildings. Previously the initiative had focused more on major cities, but the Attorney General’s office is slowly expanding into more small town and rural areas.

Ayers said that the hearing is part of a long process that works to hold owners accountable for unsafe and uninhabitable buildings while making sure those owners get due process and time to remedy problems. He said the hearing not only brings all necessary parties together, but can also serve as a wake up call for owners.

“The process is to try to get together with people and understand what’s going on,” he said.

If the owners don’t comply, the next step would be Housing Court and a possible receivership, where a developer is granted possession of the property by the Housing Court.

Ayers said the process is often lengthy, as local governments try to work with owners to get problems under control before taking it to court.

“We aren’t picking on people, we’re following a process, an open process,” Ayers said.

Reach Miranda Davis at
413-772-0261, ext. 280 or
mdavis@recorder.com.