A hearing on the potential demolition of a Buzzards Bay building turned contentious enough that a police officer came to the Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Center.
The officer’s arrival quelled the acrimony of the hearing and allowed for a calmer atmosphere to prevail.
It happened during the board of selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night, June 4. The board held a hearing into the possible demolition of the structure at 328 Main Street, owned by Michael J. and Janet M. Maxim. A board of survey, along with Bourne Building Inspector Roger M. Laporte, has deemed the building unsafe and recommended it for demolition.
Chairman Judith M. Froman recalled that the board has held numerous meetings regarding the Maxims’ building, and made many requests from Mr. Maxim for specifics as to how he planned to improve the property. Those requests, she said, included meeting with Town Planner Coreen V. Moore “to come up with something that is a viable option.”
“So that something can be in that property that does not fall under the criteria of having a large red X on it,” she said.
The single-family home is located across from the Starbucks coffeehouse and just off Belmont Circle. The Bourne Fire Department has placed a red X on the building, signifying that it is unsafe for emergency responders to enter.
The X warns firefighters that they should fight any fire there from the outside and use extreme caution when deciding whether to enter the building. The building has also been deemed an eyesore under the town’s anti-blight program.
On several occasions Tuesday night, Ms. Froman had to interrupt and silence Mr. Maxim during his comments to the board. She frequently had to instruct him that the selectmen were only interested in hearing new information about plans he had for the building.
Mr. Maxim, however, often veered off-topic to focus on how he felt he had been mistreated by town officials, including the selectmen and Mr. Laporte. Ms. Froman eventually had to strike her gavel to direct Mr. Maxim’s attention away from an argument he was having with the building inspector.
“We have indulged you with a tremendous amount of time on this topic,” she said. “We need to see progress…”
“Right, so, so…” he interrupted.
“Excuse me, I’m still talking!” she countered. “If you continue talking, I will ask you to leave!”
Bourne Police Chief Dennis R. Woodside said that a resident who was watching the meeting on Bourne Community TV called the police department. The resident felt that the exchanges between Ms. Froman and Mr. Maxim were getting heated, Chief Woodside said.
Sergeant Theodore Economides was on duty Tuesday night. Sgt. Economides was informed about the call and decided to attend the hearing, the chief said. The sergeant stayed for the remainder of the hearing and his presence appeared to mollify Mr. Maxim.
“Sgt. Economides did a commendable job taking it upon himself to go down there,” the chief said.
Ms. Froman took a moment to assure Mr. Maxim that the board wants to work with him, not against him in whatever endeavor is approved for his property.
Mr. Maxim has been before the board of selectmen relative to the building numerous times over the past year. On several occasions, Mr. Maxim has offered suggestions as to what he plans to do with the building in order to salvage it.
His ideas, however, have been rejected by Town Planner Coreen V. Moore as not appropriate under the town’s zoning regulations where the building is located. In February, he told selectmen that he wanted to put in a car wash, but was told by Ms. Moore the zoning did not allow it.
Selectman Peter J. Meier conceded that Mr. Maxim had taken some steps to clean up the property, by doing some painting and clearing of vegetation. However, the work done was still not enough to avoid violation of the town’s blight bylaw, he said.
Mr. Meier warned Mr. Maxim that the possibility existed for the Bourne Board of Health to intervene, given the building’s violations under the town’s anti-blight bylaw. If the board of health were to step in, Mr. Meier said, the penalties could be much worse, as their regulations carry significant monetary fines.
“It’s $1,000 a day, so consider this a gift,” he said.
Mr. Maxim ultimately told the board that his plans involve renovating the current structure into a two-story building with a commercial unit on the first floor and residential units on the second floor. Asked if his plans had been presented to Ms. Moore, Mr. Maxim first said they had. When further queried as to whether he had discussed his plans with Ms. Moore within the past six weeks, he reversed himself and said no.
The board unanimously agreed on a motion to not move forward with demolition and to continue the hearing for two weeks, to its meeting on Tuesday, June 18. Board members advised Mr. Maxim to meet with Ms. Moore and secure her recommendation on his plans for the building. The motion to continue included that information be sent to Mr. Maxim on the town’s blight bylaw, and steps he needs to take.