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Problem property

Conway Health Board moves to condemn home

  • The house at 1615 Main Poland Road has been served a condemnation notice. Recorder/Kathleen McKiernan
  • The house at 1615 Main Poland Road has been served a condemnation notice. Recorder/Kathleen McKiernan

CONWAY — In a picturesque neighborhood in the southwestern end of town, a single-story home on Main Poland Road has attracted much attention.

The front yard near Poland Brook is littered with junk that spills into the dirt road, and an electric cord runs from the small brown house into the road. And most significantly, the septic system has failed.

After working with the homeowner for several years to remediate the issues, the Board of Health is moving to condemn the house at 1615 Main Poland Road, owned by Gene Malloy.

The board will hold a condemnation hearing at the Town Hall on May 19. The homeowner has been served with the notice.

A group of neighbors, who have complained to town officials repeatedly about the home and the safety and environmental hazards it may pose, have pushed and called for action.

“We are moving to condemn the house,” said Board of Health Chairman Carl Nelke. “It’s been too long since we had the failed Title 5 inspection. We tried working so hard with the Malloys to get positive action. Nothing is happening. We have no recourse.”

The board is approaching the issue on two fronts – housing code violations and a Title 5 inspection for a failed septic system.

If the house is condemned, Malloy would not be allowed to live there until the septic system is brought up to code. He’d still have to pay taxes.

The town was faced with condemning the home last fall, but decided to hold off until March to give Malloy time to pay for the repairs and for the weather to improve.

Malloy and his wife, Donna, bought the home in 2011. The couple lived for some time in Donna Malloy’s parents’ home across the street at 1600 Main Poland Road. That home is owned by the Culver family.

Nelke said the board has tried working with Malloy since 2011 to fix the system.

According to state law, a homeowner has two years to repair a septic system after a failed Title 5 inspection.

Malloy bought his home on three acres at an auction for $500.

When he bought the home, Malloy was not aware he had to pay back taxes. In August 2012, the town moved to take the house for unpaid taxes. But then, Malloy came up with a payment plan. Nor did he know that the septic system, built in 1972, was failing, either.

At the time, Malloy said the house was in worse shape and he has since been trying to fix it up so he can put it on the market again.

“We’re cleaning it up,” Malloy said. “If you saw the front yard before you would say ‘oh, geez those people are slobs.’”

The junk, which Malloy collects and sells on the property, brings up another issue for the town.

The town Zoning Bylaws states “any reasonably large accumulation of junk, trash, or debris shall be confined out of sight by plantings or other screenings.”

Despite that, there is no enforcement mechanism for people who do violate the town bylaws.

The junk is visible from the road.

The board has volunteered to help Malloy clean up his yard, but the junk returned the following week.

Town Administrator Tom Hutcheson has placed an article on the May 12 town meeting agenda that would subject people who violate town laws to a special monetary penalty. The article was originally proposed without the Malloy residence in mind, Hutcheson said.

“I put it on the (agenda) because there is no way for any Conway bylaws to be enforced unless you take them to court. That’s expensive and it takes time,” Hutcheson said.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com 413-772-0261 ext. 268 or on Twitter follow: @RecorderKatMcK

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