Claremont moves to take over abandoned building

Submitted 3 months ago

The city council will take over an abandoned building at 39 Central Street.

The owner of the building hasn't paid taxes since 2005 and his whereabouts are unknown. The tax bill currently approaches $60,000, far more than the building is worth.

“I'd like to get the process started so we have some control over it,” said Mayor Charlene Lovett at Wednesday's city council meeting.

City Economic Development Director Nancy Merrill said the city can be reimbursed most of the cost of taking the building by the state. “Our recommendation is it's time for the city to take this and do something with it.”

The old brick building used to have a wooden structure on the back, but that was taken down by the city because it was a hazard. An open pit behind it, that used to be underneath the wooden structure, has been described as a hazard by neighbors because of its depth and steep sides; a person who fell into it in the dark had to be helped out by emergency medical personnel.

Merrill said if the state reimburses the city for taking it over, the city's whole cost could be around $500. “I would advise you to clean it up before you sell it. You are becoming the responsible party for this building.”

City council member Nicholos Koloski said he wasn't in favor of taking the building “at this time.”

Koloski said he wanted a clear plan for what will be done with the building before the city takes it. He suggested another walk-through with the historic commission.

Lovett and Merrill pointed out that the city needs permission from a judge to go onsite, since it currently does not own the property. Merrill said a walk-through had already taken place: “We had court authority to enter.”

City Manager Ryan McNutt said they already know there's contamination. “Somewhere from zero to 700 gallons of heating oil leaked into the ground, but we can get that topsoil removed. It looks to be a small-scale spill.

“My team would have no problem taking it right away,” said McNutt, “but you couldn't expect immediate action on it.”

The council voted to add the property to the list of other properties to be sold at tax auction.

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