EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 11, 2013

City plansto flatten problem buildings

Council approves razing four homes with rodents, safety issues


Osborne said the property is open to the outside, has mold, is infested with rodents, has had vagrants living in it and is a fire hazard. He said it has been abandoned since 2010 and is in such poor condition that it would likely need to be demolished by any new owner anyway.

“It’s been an eyesore for three years and it’s not fair to the neighbors,” Osborne said.

No one contested putting the Margerie Street home on the demolition list. Osborne said it also has been abandoned and open to the elements for about three years. He said the property is owned by a California bank, which has ignored the city’s letters about the property.

Andrew Herlihy, who works in the city’s planning office, said the home is in a nice neighborhood and that the city has fielded many complaints about it from neighbors.

“This is a classic foreclosure case,” Herlihy said. “It’s owned by an out-of-state bank that’s not interested in it because it has little real estate value, even if it was renovated.”

The mayor’s push 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 are 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.

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 city plans to knock down, aren’t good candidates for that program, however, because they require too much work, officials said.

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