Lisbon looks to condemn building

LISBON — Village council agreed at this week’s meeting to ask the county health department to condemn a three-story apartment house damaged by fire nearly two years ago.

The property is located on North Market Street, just south of village hall. A November 2018 fire forced eight tenants to flee for their lives, including one who climbed out a window and down the side of the building.

Council member Jerry Cox made the motion to begin the process of having the building condemned, calling it an “eyesore.” He said landlord Ruth Brown has made no effort to either repair or raze the building in the 23 months since the fire left it gutted.

Cox said it is his understanding Brown wants to donate the building to the Lisbon Landmark Foundation, which is devoted to preserving the village’s historic buildings. Some on council doubt the foundation has the money to undertake the necessary rehabilitation, which means the building will continue to sit there and deteriorate.

Following the fire, Mayor Peter Wilson — then a councilman — urged his colleagues to adopt an aggressive rental property inspection program. Council instead approved a version with no real inspection powers or penalties because of concerns about enforcement.

Wilson said now was the time to reconsider approving a rental property inspection program, suggesting the fire was caused by a space heater and could have been avoided had there been an inspection. This was disputed by council president Dawn Thomas, who does not believe fire officials ever determined the cause.

All of the tenants were using space heaters, but Brown said gas heat was available but they chose not to use it.

In other action, council accepted the resignation of police officer Kody Watkins, who was leaving to take another job. He is being replaced by former Lisbon officer Chase Askounes, who was returning after working the past two years as a county sheriff’s deputy.

Street superintendent Jim Oliver announced leaf pickup would begin the first week of November.


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