Crackdown on Vacant Buildings Continues | City | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
Pin It
Favorite

Crackdown on Vacant Buildings Continues 

Local Matters

BURLINGTON - It's been almost a year and a half since city officials began their crackdown on vacant buildings in Burlington, and the campaign has reduced the number of "dangerous" and "blightful" buildings, says Assistant City Attorney Gene Bergman.

Burlington's vacant buildings ordinance requires owners to apply for a quarterly permit, for which they pay a fee and submit to an inspection. In August 2005, the city identified 12 structures whose owners lacked permits and were behind on their fines.

Several of those have since been demolished - including the Abare house in the Intervale, the Vermont Gas building on Riverside Avenue, the house at 280 North Winooski Avenue and the former Little Caesar's on Shelburne Road. One of the buildings, at 76-78 Cherry Street, is being converted to housing for female offenders being released from state custody. The owners of other buildings have paid their fees and secured their permits. The ones who resisted have been prosecuted.

Last month ["A New Owner for an Old North End Eyesore," November 15], Seven Days reported that the vacant two-story building on the corner of La Fountain and Cedar streets in the Old North End was sold in a tax sale to Winston Jennison of Johnson. After repeated warnings, Bergman charged former absentee owner Craig Lesage with six counts of violating the city's ordinance. Lesage eventually pleaded guilty and was fined more than $2400.

Jennison told Seven Days he planned to rehab the building and create housing; he's hoping to sell it to Green Mountain Habitat For Humanity. But on November 29, a city inspection led to an order to demolish the building in 90 days, so whoever owns it will have to take it down by early March.

Longtime Burlington resident George Munson was also on the noncompliant list. Munson owned the vacant historic house at 111 North Winooski Avenue. "George had a long series of violations that he had been ordered to correct," says Bergman.

The assistant city attorney filed multiple charges against Munson, and the landowner settled out of court. Munson was required to pay a $1000 fine, $2000 in back fees, and fix or sell the building by the end of year.

He chose to sell. On December 5, he transferred ownership to Dan Trahan of South Burlington.

Bergman is happy with the change. He says, "The city and the public now have somebody who is committed to complying with the law, and bringing his property into good use."

Trahan, who owns several rental properties in the area, could not be reached for comment before press time, but a student rental survey on the University of Vermont website offers some information about the building's new owner.

Five UVM students have completed rental surveys grading Trahan on his performance as a landlord. Trahan got one "A," for "There are smoke detectors which, when tested, work." But he received an "F" in four categories, including "is concerned with my satisfaction," and "communicates in a prompt, friendly, professional manner." In the category "maintains the property in good condition," Trahan earned a "D."

And the city is about to lose a valuable watchdog - Gregory McKnight, director of Code Enforcement, will leaving his post in January. McKnight, who dramatically stepped up enforcement of Burlington's housing ordinances since taking office in April 2005, will become the director of the Clandestine Drug Laboratory Program in Olympia, Washington.

» Read the full list of 2006 news updates.

Did you appreciate this story?

Show us your ❤️ by becoming a Seven Days Super Reader.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It
Favorite

More by Cathy Resmer

  • Turning Point Center Fights Addiction With Crafts and Community
  • Turning Point Center Fights Addiction With Crafts and Community

    Burlington's Turning Point Center is a refuge for Vermonters who are trying to find their way out of drug dependence. In the stairwell leading to the center, a mural depicts a giant hand reaching down to a solitary slouching figure. Just outside the center's door at the top of the stairs, is another message: "You are no longer alone."
    • Dec 13, 2017
  • More »

About The Author

Cathy Resmer

Cathy Resmer

Bio:
Deputy publisher Cathy Resmer is an organizer of the Vermont Tech Jam, and compiles a weekly tech e-newsletter every Monday. She also oversees HR, helps manage Seven Days' digital staff and oversees its parenting publication, Kids VT. In 2018, she designed and administered a statewide youth civics project, the... more

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Latest in City

  • What's New This Summer at 16 Burlington Waterfront Spots?
  • What's New This Summer at 16 Burlington Waterfront Spots?

    It's hard to imagine that the curving Lake Champlain shoreline of Burlington Bay was once littered with oil tanks, industrial barges, timber and pollution-spewing smokestacks. A few remnants of the working harbor remain, but the stretch between Rock Point and Oakledge Park is increasingly a place for recreation, restaurants and pleasure boating. Some 30 years after the City of Burlington used the public trust doctrine to win a court battle and reclaim big chunks of the waterfront from the railroad, its transformation continues. Here's a look at pending and possible changes, large and small, along the 4.5-mile lakeside stretch. Changes include North Beach improvements, new bike path construction (and exercise stations), a brand new sailing center, more paid parking and marina construction.
    • Jun 6, 2018
  • More »

Recent Comments

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2018 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation