EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 22, 2014

Run-down home gets reprieve

City Council gives owner until April 29 to sell property on School Street

By Shawn Regan

---- — HAVERHILL — A vacant and dilapidated home at 36 School Street has received another stay of execution.

City Council last night agreed to postpone action on Mayor James Fiorentini’s proposal to demolish the building until April 29.

Prior to the meeting, the city received a letter from the property owner’s lawyer stating the owner has acquired a signed agreement to sell the home to a local contractor. The letter from attorney James Cleary III said the real estate transaction has a closing date of April 28. The property is owned by Brian Langlois.

City Council President John Michitson said Fiorentini and building inspector Richard Osborn supported postponing action on the demolition order.

In December, the council voted to demolish four of five homes on the mayor’s list of Haverhill’s most deteriorated and dangerous abandoned buildings. Langlois’ property was the only one spared.

At a prior council meeting, Cleary said a problem with the deed for the School Street property has delayed the sale of the home, but that he expected the matter would be resolved in a month or so.

The other properties approved in December for demotion are: 18 Warren St., 5 Cypress St., 2 Tyler Ave. and 16 Margerie St.

In order 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, city officials 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, officials 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’s push to demolish the buildings is part of the city’s new and aggressive effort to clean up abandoned and deteriorated properties in the city. Fiorentini has estimated there are at least 100 such properties in the city.

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.