Burning down the house

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WEST PARIS—Numerous calls to 911 were made during the Thanksgiving eve snowstorm about a burning house on Route 26 in West Paris but the Fire Department didn’t need to respond.

The structure in question was one of two hazardous buildings West Paris town officials declared dangerous and had asked the owners to address.

A bonfire in a winter storm is all that is left of the “Pop Howe” house on Route 26 in West Paris on Thanksgiving evening. The house which was declared dangerous building by the town and was intentionally burned as a means to remove it.
A bonfire in a winter storm is all that is left of the “Pop Howe” house on Route 26 in West Paris on Thanksgiving evening. The house which was declared dangerous building by the town and was intentionally burned as a means to remove it.

Earlier that day, selectmen were told that Fire Chief Norm St. Pierre had issued a permit to burn the “Pop Howe” house owned by Richard Copithorne. He had already removed some parts of the building and the remaining structure was burned and buried on the property. Copithorne will notify the new buyer of the property that this was done.

Town Manager John White said that it is easier and cheaper to remove a building by burning it than disassembling it when there isn’t a danger to other buildings.

A hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 8, 2015, to address the remaining hazardous building, which is owned by Nick Contos and is also located on Route 26. The structure partially burned in an accidental fire earlier in the year. A separate hearing will be held to address removing junk on the property.

“Were trying to be as nice as we can about it,” said White, adding that the buildings do represent an unsafe situation and that the town is obliged to follow state laws to address them.

In other news from the selectmen’s meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 26, the town agreed to enter into an agreement to allow Karen Page buy back a house on Stearns Hill Road from the town. The property had been seized for back taxes.

The family paid half of the $6,684 owed and will pay off the remaining balance monthly before April 1, 2015.

“You should appreciate this chance,” Selectman Dennis Henderson told her. “You found a couple of soft spots in a couple of old duffers.”

Selectman Wade Rainey said that the town has to be fair to all taxpayers. He stressed to the family that they can’t miss a payment or it will default on the agreement.

White said that that this is the third re-purchase agreement the town has entered into recently for tax seized properties. The town will try to come up with a policy to address the issue so there won’t be questions in the future, he added.

Selectmen also discussed the harvesting of the town wood lot. This was approved at a Special Town Meeting last October. Norm Forbes has been hired as the town’s forrester and he has been marking trees to be cut. Selectmen are putting the harvest out to bid and those bids will be due by Jan. 8, 2015.

While the town would like to see this done this winter, weather and road accessibility could delay this until spring.

smoore@advertiserdemocrat.com