Selectmen order public hearing for burned building

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WILTON – Selectmen have scheduled a public hearing to discuss whether or not to force a clean up of a local property, six months after a fire consumed a small house.

376 Depot Street is the property in question. On October 6, 2007, a fire broke out in the house, which was vacant at the time. The Wilton Fire & Rescue Department was assisted by five other local departments, and was able to save surrounding the buildings in the primarily residential area, but the home itself burned to the ground.

The owners were, and still are, Karen and Michael Flagg, of Turner. Months later, the pile of charred debris, scorched chimney and twisted metal roof remain. Code Enforcement Officer Paul Montague said that he believes the town should step in and clean the property itself.

The burned remains of a home that used to stand at 376 Depot Street. Selectmen have ordered that a public hearing be held to determine if the site should be declared a “dangerous building” and cleaned up by the town.

“The owners have been pretty non-responsive,” Montague said. “I don’t think their going to do much of any thing.”

Montague wrote a letter to the board of selectmen on August 12, informing them of the situation.

“The insurance company was investigating the fire for quite a long period of time, but had released the property for cleanup sometime in the spring,” the letter reads. “To date, little or no cleanup has taken place.”

Montague suggested that the town order a cleanup under the “Dangerous Building” statues of state law. Town work crews would work to remove debris, clear the area and fill in any cellar hole or remaining disturbances, effectively turning the site into a vacant lot. The owners would then be charged for the cleanup, probably in the form of a lien on the property.

“We’d either do it, or we’d get someone to do it,” Montague said.

The Flaggs are attempting to sell the property, he noted, and the town had an opportunity to clean up the property before new owners took over.

Selectmen agreed, scheduling a public hearing for September 16 at 7 p.m., during the regularly scheduled biweekly meeting. The Flaggs and Montague will present the situation to the board. Selectmen could choose at that point to declare the remains to be dangerous, and order a cleanup. If the property was not restored within 30 days, the town would move in.

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