North Adams taking steps to raze blighted properties on Edgewood Avenue

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NORTH ADAMS — The city is taking steps to demolish blighted properties on Edgewood Avenue.

By proposing to declare 45 Edgewood Ave. a public nuisance, the city plans to demolish the home and place a lien on the property.

The property has been vacant for more than 10 years and continues to fall into disrepair, according to Mayor Richard Alcombright. Its owners are deceased.

"There was a fire up there in a small shed," Alcombright said. "The chimney is falling through the roof, and it is a haven for rodents and other things. It's just a blight on the neighborhood."

In a letter to the City Council last month, Building Inspector William Meranti noted that the Department of Public Works has had to remove trash and debris from the property as well as mow the yard.

"Over the years, site visits have been conducted and found that there has been no progress to address neighbors' concerns," Meranti wrote.

Councilor Lisa Blackmer said she believes the city has not taken the "public nuisance" approach to a blighted since 2000.

Massachusetts General Law allows a city or town to declare a property, with prior notice to the owner, a public nuisance and determine whether or not to demolish it.

"You're right — this is not the most efficient way to do this, but it is right now our only way," Alcombright said.

Councilor Robert Moulton, Jr., said he has fielded complaints about the property from neighbors.

"I'm glad to see this addressed," Moulton said.

Councilor Keith Bona said he was glad to see the property before the City Council, and said it illustrates the complexity of processes related to handling blight.

"The city can't just go and raze a building at the snap of a finger," Bona said.

Councilor Kate Merrigan noted that the adjacent house, at 39 Edgewood, appears to be in even rougher shape, and Alcombright noted that building lacks even a solid foundation.

"We're going to come at that one from a different angle, from a public safety perspective," Alcombright said, adding that a proposal to address the issue would be coming in the near future to the City Council.

Despite the different approaches to gaining the right to demolish the homes, Alcombright said he hopes to bid out the project and have them both razed at once.

The City Council unanimously agreed to set a May 23 public hearing on the measure to declare 45 Edgewood Ave. as a nuisance to the neighborhood.

The city must also get the approval of the Historical Commission before it carries out a demolition on the house.

Reach staff writer Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376 or @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter.


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