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Town of Norfolk considers options with Route 56 eyesore

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NORFOLK - Six months following a house fire in Norfolk that left seven people homeless and killed four animals, some community members have become fed up with the lack of action to address the eyesore, according to town officials.

In the early morning hours of Nov. 24, the 26 South Main St. home burned to the ground as a result of a spark from an electric heater.

“There are some folks in the community that have been concerned about the house that burned on Route 56. I talked to them and I told them some of the things that we talked about a couple of months ago - that it’s in litigation between the owner and the people that have a rental with them,” Councilman Donald I. Purvis said.

“Some of them feel that something should start happening and get done. They’re concern is ‘Ok, why can’t they start coming down and getting rid of the truck, the camper, the boat and all of the other junk that’s on the property?’ Where are we with this and what can we expect and what’s happening with it?” he wondered.

According to Town Supervisor Charles A. Pernice, owner Josie Page had recently sold the home to Seth Hamm on a land contract.

Following the pre-Thanksgiving fire, investigators said that there were smoke alarms in the home, but they did not activate. The home was also insured, but was declared a total loss.

Code Enforcement Officer Leonard “Max” Halpern said the matter was still in the hands of the attorneys, and he was unable to give an answer that was in “black and white.” He also said that a property has up to two years to be fixed if it was destroyed by a fire.

“For a few days last month, I went around to some of the properties in the town that had been kind of abandoned and left and I wrote up a report on each and took photos on each,” Mr. Halpern said. “I had mentioned them to (Mr. Pernice) one day because we had some people complaining about the properties and if they want action taken on the properties, it’s up to the board to start the condemnation.”

He added that this process would involve hiring an engineer to do a structural analysis.

Mr. Pernice said Ms. Page is in the process of foreclosing the property on Mr. Hamm, who had a land contract on the property, thus giving her full control.

“She holds the deed but she had a land contract on top of it. Until she gets it in her hands, she’s got her hands tied,” he said.

“The fact of the matter is two board meetings ago I said ‘We need to get at least a safety net somewhere around there.’ I still think it’s unsafe,” Councilman Robert J. Harvey said.

“I think she got a letter but I just don’t know what it is. So we can’t really pick a direction, I don’t think, unless we know what direction to go in and who to go after,” Mr. Pernice said.

Mr. Halpern said that he will be contacting Brian Haggett, who runs a local trucking company, to take care of putting in a safety fence on the property.

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