EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 5, 2014

Owner fails to save two homes again

Fire official: Abandoned buildings dangerous, open

By Shawn Regan

---- — HAVERHILL — For the second time in as many months, Kevin McCarthy asked the council to spare two vacant and deteriorated homes he owns at 18 Warren St. and 2 Tyler Ave. from the wrecking ball.

And for the second time in as many months, he left the council meeting unhappy.

In December, the council voted to demolish the homes, along with three others, that Mayor James Fiorentini described at the worst abandoned buildings in Haverhill. Building Inspector Richard Osborne said McCarthy’s homes have been open to intrusion for more than a year and that both are fire hazards and infested with rodents.

McCarthy brought a couple and a woman with him to last night’s meeting who he said

have agreed to purchase both properties. He said one of the prospective buyers planned to pay cash and the other had arranged financing through a special program.

McCarthy said both buyers understood they had to quickly repair the buildings after purchasing them and that both planned to submit rehabilitation plans to the city. Osborne told councilors he had yet to see anything in writing about a pending purchase and sale agreement for either property, however.

Osborne said he told McCarthy that the demolition process at this point was a legal process and to have his attorney contact City Solicitor William Cox to discuss the steps for having the buildings removed from the demolition list. Osborne said McCarthy has yet to that.

“In November I told him what to do, but he never came to see me or the city solicitor or shown us anything,” Osborne told councilors.

McCarthy said he had retained local attorney Scott Gleason for the matter, but that Gleason was unable to handle the case due to illness. The attorney recently suffered a heart attack.

Deputy Fire Chief William LaLiberty told councilors that both homes were vacant and open to intrusion as recently as today.

“He has failed to secure these building over a long period of time,” LaLiberty said.

The council voted 7 to 0 to take no action on McCarthy’s request to lift the demolition order for the buildings. Councilor William Ryan said he abstained from voting on the advice of the city solicitor because he owns property near one of the homes, and Councilor Michael McGonagle was not in attendance.

On Monday, David Van Dam, the mayor’s aide, said the city has not yet begun soliciting proposals to raze the homes, but that he expects the bidding process for those jobs to begin soon. Osborne told councilors he expected it would take two or three months before the building are demolished.

To get a property removed from the demolition list, the owner must show the city a detailed rehabilitation plan and prove that he or she has the money to do the work, Osborne said.

If the city goes ahead and demolishes any of the buildings, it would pay to demolish them and then attach a lien on the properties to recoup the cost, Osborne 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, he said