By Tina Comeau
For the town it is a sticky situation.
On the one hand it doesn’t want to send out the message that people who allow their properties to become dangerous and unsightly can wait for the town to take them off of their hands.
On the flip side, if a property becomes a concern – primarily from a safety perspective – without any immediate solution in view, what does the town do?
In the most recent case the town of Yarmouth has purchased a property that it intends to have demolished. The property is located at 56 Argyle St. and has been the subject of a town order under the Municipal Government Act for being dangerous and unsightly.
The town purchased the four-unit apartment property since it was going to be coming up at tax sale. The unpaid taxes were around $9,000 and the property owner said he’d sell the building to the town for the same amount as the taxes owed. The taxes are then paid as part of the purchase agreement through the lawyers. After taxes and legal fees, the property owner would get to keep what’s left, if anything.
There has been concern expressed to councillors, and by them as well, about railing rungs missing on the fire escape of the property and young people gaining access to the interior and the roof of the building, which has been vacant for some time. The property owner didn’t believe this was occurring, saying the building is secure. Several windows are broken, which the property owner said was the work of vandals. The interior of the building was damaged by fire in March 2012.
In a local real estate listing the property had been listed for sale at $39,000, saying “owners motivated, all reasonable offers considered.” There were no takers.
Although there will be demolition costs to come – likely around $5,000 to $10,000 – the town will later recoup all or part of what it has paid by selling the land.
The town is also holding an auction at the property on Wednesday, Aug. 27. Viewing will commence at noon with the auction taking place at 1 p.m. Although an order has deemed the property to be dangerous, the town doesn’t foresee an issue with people coming into it for the auction. Sales will be cash only and final. Items purchased must be removed on Aug. 27 before 4 p.m. or between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on August 28. The town is holding the auction because it feels there are things inside the property possibly worth salvaging if people have a use for them.
The property has come up for discussion at several recent town council and committee of the whole meetings since not all of the work that had been ordered to be completed by the property owner had been carried out.
The property owner said it was not financially feasible for him to carry out all of the repairs listed, which included the repair of all broken or boarded up windows and doors. He had started to board up broken windows but was told he had to stop this work. When he questioned this, he was told boarding-up permits are issued by town staff who do not have the authority to overturn an order issued by town council. In this case the order did not allow for windows to be boarded up. Rather they had to be repaired.