EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 12, 2013

Owners get one last chance to save buildings

Council decides Dec. 10 on razing city's 5 most deteriorated homes


“These buildings aren’t going to be razed Dec. 11 (the day after the hearing),” Council President Robert Scatamacchia said. “There will be opportunities to get off the list.”

The mayor’s proposal to demolish the buildings is part of the city’s new and aggressive effort to clean up deteriorated properties in the city. Fiorentini has estimated there at least 100 such properties in the city. These would be the first buildings demolished under the mayor’s administration that weren’t damaged by fire, he said.

“The best-case scenario is that the owners sell or get a loan and fix up their property,” Fiorentini said in a prior interview. “But we can’t leave these eyesores in our neighborhoods indefinitely.”

Earlier this year, City Council passed an ordinance requiring absentee owners — often a bank or similar entity that holds a mortgage on the property — to pay $250 to register their buildings with the city. The owners are subject to fines of up $300 per week if they don’t register or if they fail to provide basic maintenance on a property once it is uninhabited.

The city has also been going to court to ask judges to appoint receivers to take over and repair some abandoned buildings. Some buildings, such as the ones the mayor proposes to knock down, aren’t good candidates for that program, however, because they require too much work, he said.

“These buildings are so far gone the receivers don’t want them,” Fiorentini said of the five on his demolition list.

If it goes that far, the city would pay to demolish the buildings and then attach a lien on the properties to recoup the cost, the mayor said. The city would get the money back when the property is eventually sold or the city can go to court to seize the property and sell it, the mayor said.

Several residents have attended recent council meeting to urge councilors to take a harder stance with absentee property owners who don’t take care of their buildings.

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