Colchester officials have ordered the owners of two crumbling lakeside homes on East Lakeshore Drive to remove the condemned buildings, citing structural failings beyond repair in each, town documents show.
“It is no longer feasible to secure the building by boarding it up,” town building inspector Derek Shepardson wrote in near-identical letters to the homeowners on April 27. “To prevent occupation [it] must be removed.”
In an email, planning and zoning department director Sarah Hadd confirmed the owner of one home, Gary L. Gregoire, did not appeal the town’s order within the required two-week window but said she could not comment on any enforcement action taken since.
The owner of the adjacent building, Richard Labelle, appealed to the Vermont Superior Court, saying the town’s notice “failed to provide a statement of the particulars in which the building is alleged to be unsafe.”
“Any instability of unsafe condition of the building,” he alleges in court filings, “may be remedied without its removal.”
Labelle’s attorney could not be reached for comment by press time.
A scheduled status conference was canceled earlier this month after both parties said “an agreement to resolve the issues raised in this appeal” would likely be finalized shortly, court documents show.
Reached via phone last week, town lawyer Claudine Safar said she could not comment on the ongoing litigation or a potential settlement deal but noted the case dated back several years.
Indeed, Shepardson declared both homes “unsafe” on the same day in January 2013, indicating he had received a complaint about the structural safety of both buildings.
He subsequently ordered the buildings boarded up or removed within 24 hours, according to archived letters from zoning administrator Lisa Riddle posted on the town’s website.
Colchester building codes define such structures as “unstable,” “unsanitary” or “otherwise dangerous to life or other property,” among other standards. Vacant buildings are also “deemed to constitute a hazard.”
“Please be advised that as the building is unsafe and can’t be occupied, the use is also deemed abandoned and discontinued,” Riddle wrote in each.
Attached to those notices are several black and white photos, many showing the sagging buildings held up by stacks of concrete blocks.
Last Friday afternoon, the neighboring homes, which both overlook Malletts Bay, remained standing in conditions apparently similar to the time of the 2013 notice.
Labelle’s property on the bustling roadway is almost entirely obstructed by overgrown trees and shrubbery, save for one cleared side.
Gregoire’s home is far more visible, broken windows and peeling gray paint especially noticeable in the gleaming sun.
A boat was posted for sale in his front lawn, just feet away from a sign reading, “authorized personnel only.”