By Mike Melanson
HANSON — Selectmen on Tuesday, July 22 deemed an unfinished house at 62 Ocean Ave. an attractive nuisance and ordered it to be demolished by Nov. 1.
In other action Tuesday, the board also voted to withdraw from a state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) grant process to implement a pay-as-you-throw trash and recycling program in Hanson.
Selectmen voted 5-0 to find that the house at 62 Ocean Ave. is not safe, nor secure, and to order it demolished.
Property owner Dean Anderson could comply with the order or appeal it in court.
Building Commissioner Robert Curran produced a file folder for 62 Ocean Ave. that was a foot thick.
Curran said he has spent hundreds of hours in court on the case seeking to enforce permit injunctions, and the town has prevailed in court.
Anderson has been put in jail for noncompliance, been found in contempt of court a number of times, and has ignored court orders to not occupy the building, not store stuff there, not operate an automobile repair business there, and not store unregistered motor vehicles there, Curran said.
“Yet the property continues to be a hazard,” he said. “It’s essentially a three-and-a-half story bonfire.”
Curran said the building is open, despite a court order that it be secured.
He said the building permit for it has been revoked and is expired.
There has never been a occupancy permit, and the building is not in a business zone, he said.
Anderson also has a retaining wall that is seven feet into the roadway, which could hinder fire and rescue vehicles responding to an emergency. A fire at 62 Ocean Ave. could spread to other properties, Curran said.
Curran said he started the enforcement process more than four years ago, and there was even a jury trial.
“The owner is doing whatever he pleases with this property,” he said. “It definitely poses a threat to other properties.”
Curran recommended that the building be taken down.
Fire Lt. Gary Smith said anyone entering the building can be injured and firefighters responding to a fire there would be placed at risk.
“To our knowledge, this building does not have any drywall installed, essentially making the building an unprotected lumber yard,” Smith said. “The building has no power, but the owner has used an electrical extension cord that has been run across the street to another house for power or, it has been reported, that a generator has been used for power.”
Anderson said the hearing Tuesday was not fair.
“There isn’t much I can say right now because all of this information I’m getting right now,” he said.
Anderson asked who gave the building commissioner, police, fire or other town employees permission to enter his property.
“No one has the right to enter my property,” he said.
Selectman Bruce Young said the evidence is overwhelming and the case has gone on for too long.
“A man’s home is his castle,” Young said. “My heart goes out to you, but it’s time to move on. It’s time for everyone to move on.”
Selectman William Scott said Hanson officials tried to work with Anderson, but got little or no cooperation.
“It’s a shame that it got to that point. Maybe we could’ve headed it off. It’s too late now,” Scott said.
Selectman Chairman David Soper said it was Anderson’s inability to cooperate with the town and tendency to see things his own way despite the evidence that has resulted in a need to order the building demolished.
“You leave this board no choice,” Soper said.
Selectmen voted, 3-2, to withdraw from the state DEP grant process for pay-as-you-throw.
Scott, Young and Selectman James McGahan voted to withdraw from the grant; Soper and Selectman Donald Howard voted against the measure.
McGahan said a grant requirement that private trash haulers offer bundled rates for curbside pickup for trash and recyclables, even for customers who wish to dispose of recyclables at the transfer station, is not fair to the haulers or residents.
The Board of Health enacted the policy as part of the grant application, and the motion approved by selectmen Tuesday stated a recommendation that the health board rescind it.
“What bothers me is it didn’t come before the people to vote on as an option,” McGahan said. “What choice do we have? We have no choice.”
Town Administrator Ronald San Angelo said that recycling has doubled with pay-as-you-throw, from one container to two, and the amount of trash has decreased, from one container a day to one or two containers a week, at the transfer station.
“In its first month, we’ve seen great progress,” San Angelo said.
Of the $18,000 state grant, the town has spent almost $7,000 to paint lines and place signs at the transfer station and to mail information to residents, said Town Accountant Kimberly Brown.
The liability will now be treated as an unpaid bill because Hanson will no longer be reimbursed for implementation costs by the state, and will need to go before Special Town Meeting in October for funding, Brown said.