BELLOWS FALLS -- Zoning-Planning Administrator and Rockingham Health Officer Ellen Howard updated the Rockingham Selectboard on a health order on a residence at 42 Green St.
In an e-mail to Municipal Manager Timothy Cullenen, Howard said Brud Sanderson of Stevens & Associates of Brattleboro conducted a structural inspection on the building’s porch on Tuesday, July 24. She said the inspection was done at the town’s request because the building’s owner and manager failed to take action on the health order.
Howard said at Tuesday’s Selectboard meeting the porch is in poor condition and "you can actually see right through" the post at the northeast corner on the first floor because it has been hollowed out.
Though the Selectboard suggested Howard notify the tenants they have 14 days to seek alternative living arrangements, she said there are a few options for Rockingham.
"One is the town takes the porch down, then reconfigures the building. The porch is tied into the roof. There are doorways that come off onto the porch from each floor," she told the Selectboard. "Prior to demolition, you would also have to have an asbestos check of the porch structure done."
Another option, Howard said, is breaking up the porch so it is safe and allow for a longer span of time to allow all tenants to relocate.
"If you’re going to break it up, it would have to be done with someone that knows how to structure
The final option -- chosen by the Selectboard -- is to close down the building and issue an emergency health order requiring all tenants to vacate within 10 to 14 days. Howard said the owner and the bank holding the mortgage would also have to be notified.
The health officer said it is not just the building’s tenants using the porch on the Green Street side -- but other individuals, like letter carriers, as well. She said she will contact the local post office to inform its employees of the porch.
"There are people in the public that don’t realize the danger of this porch," Howard told the Selectboard. "It is immediately abutting the public way."
She said there would be costs to the town no matter which option the Selectboard chose.
Howard said neither she nor Bellows Falls Fire Chief Bill Weston have had any contact with the property owner.
"The building owners have relocated from Massachusetts. They are now in Colorado," she said. "The company is an LLC out of Nevada -- so they have multiple addresses. The building manager, who was supposed to meet us at the building or have somebody there, has probably resigned because we have had no contact with the building manager either.
"So we are sitting here with a building and nobody taking any sort of responsibility for it," she added.