NORTH ADAMS -- By month's end, Eagle Street residents will no longer see the dilapidated house that has been an issue in their neighborhood for more than a decade.
As of Sept. 28 -- the deadline set by the City Council at its meeting Tuesday night -- the single-family home at 160 Eagle St., rear, either will be rehabilitated by owner Michael Hernandez or it will be demolished by the city.
The property was declared a public nuisance by the council during a public hearing at its Aug. 14 meeting -- 11 years after it was first declared a public nuisance and ordered to be rehabilitated or razed.
Hernandez, who is listed as the property owner, along with Nandez LLC, a company that he also is the manager and owner of, asked the council to hold off on making a decision about the property until its first meeting in December, which would coincide with the expiration of his building permit.
He blamed his absence at the public hearing on a miscommunication between him, the mayor's office and the building inspector.
"I was under the impression that I had the building permit and all I had to do was to put on the vinyl siding and put in some new windows. I am still willing to do that," Hernandez said. "I applied for a building permit on May 15 and reiterated [in an email] on May 30 that I wanted to complete the building. There's a new 200 amp electrical service to the building and city water into the building. I agree the building
Building Inspector William Meranti confirmed that a building permit had been issued to Hernandez on June 21, but urged the council to move forward with the order to set a date certain for the property.
"No work has been done with this permit or any past permit," Meranti said. "I think it's time the council takes action on this. We've heard these promises before. It's still blight. It's still a nuisance. It's still a hazard to the neighborhood. We have years and years of the same go around."
Councilor John Barrett III, said he'd be willing push the order back, but not until December.
"Does the mayor want to extend this out 30 days, 60 days or more forward?," he said. "I will honor his request."
Mayor Richard J. Alcom bright said that he did not want to extend the order past the deadline of Sept. 28, seeing the project had been dormant for so many years.
"This has been going on since I was first on the council in 2001 11 years later, nothing has been done," he said. "A year ago we had a conversation in my office with Mr. Hernandez. I don't think there were any secrets about our intentions. We went forward with a new order, on the suggestion of the city solicitor, because the original was old."
The mayor also stated that Hernandez's claims to having agreed that siding and new windows would bring the property into compliance.
Councilor Lisa Blackmer said the order did allow time for Hernandez to rehabilitate the property.
"If Mr. Hernandez can rehabilitate this property in four weeks, so be it. If not, we've spelled this out. This property has had plenty of time to be rehabilitated," she said.
When asked what it would take to bring the building into compliance, Meranti said it would require more than had been done at the property.
"It's a major problem. It's not structural, but a problem of aesthetics," he said. "It's a question of it being left open. It's a question of it being a hazard. If the brush were cleared out and the building rehabilitated, that would be one thing, but Mr. Hernandez has been issued other building permits for this property. In 2003, he was issued a building permit for a full renovation into a single-family home. Nothing was done."
Councilor Keith Bona, who said he'd rather see the property renovated than razed, questioned how the building has been an issue for 11 years, when an order issued in 2001 set a date of Feb. 9 as the deadline for rehabilitation or demolition.
"When someone shows interest in working with the city and renovating the property, we'd like to believe him," Alcombright said. "The other issue is that it wasn't prioritized for demolition, which means it sat on the list until recently."
Should Hernandez fail to renovate the property by Sept. 28, the city will have it demolished and place a lien on the property for the costs.
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email