Selectboard advances library project, discusses vacant homes

Photo by Scooter MacMillan
Neighbors say that the home at 102 Stockbridge Road in Charlotte has been abandoned for more than 10 years.

SCOOTER MACMILLAN
Staff Writer

The Charlotte Selectboard took two more steps toward construction of an addition to the library on Monday night. The board unanimously approved the contract with ReArch Company for construction of the addition. Also approved was a memorandum of agreement with the Charlotte Library Board of Trustees and Friends of Charlotte Library regarding financial procedures for the $600,000 library fundraising match to pay for the $1.2 million project.

The selectboard also considered what steps they might take to deal with abandoned property. Almost 20 people attended the meeting to request that the selectboard do something about two abandoned homes, one at 102 Stockbridge Road and another at 353 Island Farm Road.

Many of these people had come to the selectboard’s previous meeting about the issue. Town administrator Dean Bloch brought copies of an ordinance that St. Albans adopted to deal with abandoned property.

Bloch said that the “restrictiveness and specificity” of the St. Albans ordinance might be considered too onerous in Charlotte.

Bloch said there is already some basis for holding the property owner accountable because there is a covenant for the property at 102 Stockbridge Road to be maintained consistently with “the character” of surrounding property.

The property owner does pay their taxes, he said, so that is not an avenue of recourse by the town.

Resident Chuck DesLauriers said he and his neighbors have tried to deal with the property owners directly.
“We’re appealing to the town to give us assistance because as neighbors we’ve tried literally everything to encourage the owners of that property to maintain it properly,” he said.

DesLauriers said that besides being an eyesore, the condition of the property in question is affecting home values, increasing the pest population and the potential for vandalism, and attracting partiers.

“This house has been let to completely deteriorate” since the owners moved out more than 10 years ago, DesLauriers said.

The neighbors filed a claim against the former owner and negotiated a settlement agreement in mediation that everyone signed with a schedule of dates when certain tasks were supposed to be accomplished, he said.

“They did not do one single thing on that list,” said DesLauriers. “They were in violation of the settlement agreement and we were about to take action and they sold the property.”

That was in 2016, he said.

The new owner has left the property abandoned, DesLauriers said, adding that the legal fees for this case were nearly $20,000.

Ginny Patton, who lives on Lake Road, also asked the selectboard for relief from an abandoned house at 353 Island Farm Road, near her home.

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