BELLOWS FALLS -- Residents of a Green Street property say their landlords' neglect of certain structural issues will result in their homelessness later this week.
The residence at 42 Green St. was condemned on Wednesday, Aug. 8, and Rockingham Health Officer Ellen Howard posted an emergency health order requiring the building's three apartments be vacated and closed to access by 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23.
At least 20 people will be without a home as a result.
Crystal Shipper and a few of the other individuals she lives with on the second floor said on Monday the building's problems have been ignored by its landlords, who cannot be tracked down by anyone from the town of Rockingham or the tenants.
Bellows Falls Fire Chief Bill Weston said the structure has health and fire code violations. A Vermont licensed engineer had previously conducted a structural inspection of the porch, according to the emergency health order.
"We can't allow these violations to go on unabated," he said. "We can't let people stay there."
According to Howard's emergency health order, the building's three-story porch is in poor condition. The town issued a prior emergency health order to property owner Pinecliffe Holdings LLC, requiring a structural analysis and closure of the porch. Howard reported that Pinecliffe Holdings did not respond.
Howard has also ordered the second- and third-floor porch levels be closed and instructed
There are a few options for the town in the case of non-compliance by the tenants. The order said the government may enforce to order's terms by resorting to legal action or correcting the condition, paying the cost of the repairs and then recovering that cost from the owners.
"If the town elects to do the latter it "shall have a lien against the property to recover its costs. The Town shall not be limited to this procedure and shall be entitled to any other statutory action for (legal) remedy," according to the order.
"Such costs shall also include the recovery of all reasonable costs for the enforcement of such order and any recovery shall include reasonable attorney's fees," it continues.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.