Whitman razes blighted house
WHITMAN — A blighted house at 36 East Ave. was torn down Thursday, Nov. 12, to ease the process of auctioning off a vacant house across the street and resolve complaints from neighboring residents of vermin they said were traced to the condemned house.
Selectmen voted on Tuesday, Nov. 10 to authorize Town Administrator Frank Lynam to hire an auctioneer for 35 East Ave.
“This has been something that’s been pending for several months,” Lynam said of the auction. “We have had permission to sell the property for a while, but given the fact that the property across the street is even worse than that and we had voted to take that property down, I wanted to wait until we actually did that before seeking to auction this.”
The presence of 36 East Ave. would have greatly reduced what could be brought in by an auction of 35 East Ave., according to Lynam.
The town received a judicial order to demolish the property.
“Once it’s down and graded I’d like to move forward with the sale of the other property,” Lynam told selectmen.
East Avenue neighbors attended a Board of Health meeting on Sept. 2, 2014 regarding a continuing problem with rats in the East Avenue neighborhood — and the possibility that the two vacant houses on the street were housing the vermin. While there was doubt in some quarters if rats were, indeed, living inside 35 and 36 East Ave., evidence that raccoons nested in one of the houses had been found.
Town officials, meanwhile, saw legal and financial limits to what could be done about the problem posed by the decaying houses.
The town had, by that time, already foreclosed on 35 East Ave., and had to wait until November 2014 [the end of a one-ear waiting period] before anything could be done with it, including trying to sell the property to a developer who would raze the house and build there, according to Lynam.
“We will not move forward without a judicial order, because it puts the town in a liability position,” Lynam said at the 2014 Board of Health meeting. “The biggest question then becomes funding because we have to have funds have to pay someone to take the house down.”
A Town Meeting vote in May of this year provided the funds.
— Tracy F. Seelye