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01/12/2017

Town takes legal action to remedy unsafe structure at 75 Ocean House Road


Collapsing front porch at 75 Ocean House Road is just one of many hazards prompting the town to take legal action (photo courtesy Ben McDougal)

An abandoned house at 75 Ocean House Road may succumb to the wrecking ball if legal proceedings carry out.

The Town Council on Jan. 9, 2017 authorized the town attorney to "pursue legal means necessary" to remedy unsafe conditions at the house, on the west side of Ocean House Road south of the intersection with Spurwink Avenue.

"The house is structurally unsafe, unsanitary; is unsuitable to be used as a dwelling; and it constitutes a hazard to health and safety because of inadequate maintenance and dilapidation," wrote Ben McDougal, town code-enforcement officer, in a Dec. 20, 2016 memo.

Specifically, McDougal told members of the council, the front porch and sections on the side of the house are collapsing.

Officials have been aware of conditions since 2011, when then-acting codes officer Tim Nelson determined the house was unsafe and its occupant, whom McDougal described as an elderly gentleman, was removed. McDougal said he has tried unsuccessfully to get the mortgage-holding company to act since February of 2014.

The good news is that discussions with the company have improved over the last week. "It is still my hope that we don't see this process through, that the mortgage company remedies this issue on their own, but taking this step tonight will help them do that," McDougal said.

If not, the town will bid a demolition job to make it a flat, safe piece of land.

The house is a colonial revival believed to have been constructed between 1910 and 1930. The town's zoning ordinance does not consider it an historic resource, but it is described in a 1999 baseline survey of the town's historic structures:

This one-and-a-half story, three bay house is a good example of the Dutch Colonial, a common subtype of the Colonial Revival period. The gambrel roof, shed dormers across the front and rear facades, and the simple pediment entry porch supported by slender columns are typical characteristics of this style. The house is flanked on either side by one story rooms: one is an enclosed room, the other a screened porch which has large Doric columns.