BELLOWS FALLS -- The Village Board of Trustees voted on Tuesday to meet with its legal counsel next week to discuss what next steps it will take in regards to a building that has been deemed unsafe in the village.
The trustees decided to attempt to schedule a special meeting with attorney Ray Massucco, acting as the village's counsel, to talk about what actions to take with Ed Sauve's property at 69 Atkinson St. If the time is convenient enough for Massucco, the board plans to hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
The trustees requested at its March 27 meeting an inspection of the building, as allowed under the Bellows Falls Village Corporation Unsafe Building Ordinance. Bellows Falls Fire Chief William Weston and Town Health Officer Ellen Howard met with Sauve at the property on Tuesday, April 10, for the inspection.
The board then voted to hire a structural engineer to assess the house and produce a report about its integrity. Sauve said Howard, Weston and the engineer gave recommendations that should be addressed. Sauve told the board on Tuesday there are categories of issues -- ones that need to be dealt with as soon as possible, within three months and within six months.
He said he is taking care of the few aspects the engineer felt warranted a lot of attention.
"The engineer said he didn't see anything that was of major concern," Sauve told the trustees.
Municipal Manager Timothy Cullenen said the
Sauve told the board he took exception to some of the wording in the report produced by Weston and Howard. He mentioned specifically what was described as "an excessive amount of debris" within the property.
"What constitutes debris is determined by the individual. I have a lot of stuff in that house. It's storage, it's stuff that my kids own. It was ransacked. The building was vandalized and stuff was dumped out and now it's considered debris," he said. "(The report) is saying I need to clean it out. There are personal item, personal belongings. I don't feel you have the right to tell me to get rid of them."
Trustee Colin James reminded Sauve that the report was conducted by Weston, Howard and the structural engineer -- not the board.
"I know that. But they're considering this debris. I'm not," he said. "What gives them or anybody the right to go into any house in Bellows Falls and say, ‘You need to clean it out because I consider it debris'?"
Trustee President Roger Riccio told Sauve he was looking at a photo included in the reported and said many things seem to just be strewn about. He said the report requests Sauve clean up the area and mentioned Massucco can clarify any confusion on verbiage.
Sauve explained the cardboard considered to be a fire hazard is from the boxes used to store the items that were stolen. Riccio said the boxes still need to be cleaned up because it is a fire hazard.
Sauve told Riccio anyone would have a problem with the government telling them to get rid of items within their own property and the president said he would choose to go through everything and decide what to dispose of and what to keep.
"If it's stuff that you cherish, that you want, I would go in and clean it up, pack it up and put it someplace safe," he said.
When Sauve asked him what he would define as "someplace safe," Riccio said it is any spot that not prohibit people's ability to walk through a space.
"With all due respect, it does look like it's been this way for quite some time," Riccio said. "I've driven by that house for 11 years and it pretty much looked the same way it does now and it doesn't look safe and I don't mean any disrespect but we all have to maintain our properties and our houses or they're going to fall apart.
"I'm not judging," he added. "I'm just saying your house needs some attention."
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.