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January 31, 2014

Criminal charges filed against mill owner

LAWRENCE — A fence went up around some of the fire-ravaged ruins of a South Canal Street mill yesterday, two days after the owner was criminally charged with ignoring orders from the city to secure the teetering red-brick shell and submit a plan for demolishing it.

Housing Court Clerk-Magistrate Susan Trippi ordered the building’s owner, David Padellaro, to return to court for an arraignment on Feb. 6, adding another chapter to the troubled history of the landmark Merrimac Paper mill complex since it was sold at a bankruptcy auction in 2005 after 130 years of operation.

City building inspectors ordered Padellaro to secure the site and submit the plan for demolishing the historic building and cleaning up the property — which is riddled with asbestos and other toxins — on Jan. 16, a day after state arson investigators left the site. By yesterday, the investigators had not determined the cause of the Jan. 13 blaze.

At a hearing Tuesday, Padellaro provided Trippi with the outlines of a proposed contract with an engineer who would develop the demolition plan. In her ruling, Trippi said the document “was not sufficiently comprehensive” to qualify as the plan itself.

In ordering Padellaro’s arraignment, Trippi also noted he still has not applied for a demolition permit. She also said he provided no evidence of any work done to secure the property to protect the public and keep out the homeless and vagrants that have often camped out in the maze of 27 buildings that cover nearly all of the two-acre mill complex.

Yesterday Padellaro erected a 6- or 7-foot chain link fence around the most badly damaged building, but not around an adjoining building damaged by the fire. That building is secured with plywood on the doors and windows.

City Building Commissioner Peter Blanchette is scheduled to meet with Padellaro’s engineer, Richard Kaminski of Lawrence, at City Hall this morning to begin work on the demolition plan.

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