Saturday, May 9, 2009

Preserve Burlington's History and Fine Architecture -- things that give a city a sense of place.

(c) Demolition by Neglect:

No owner of a historic building, or lessee who is obligated by lease to maintain and repair such a structure (other than the interior), shall allow, cause, or permit the structure to suffer or experience demolition by neglect. Examples of such disrepair and deterioration include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Deterioration of walls or other vertical supports; walls, partitions or vertical supports that split, lean, list, or buckle, thus jeopardizing structural integrity;

2. Deterioration or inadequate foundations that jeopardize structural integrity;

3. Deterioration of roofs, ceilings, or other horizontal members;

4. Deterioration of fireplaces or chimneys;

5. Deterioration or crumbling exterior stucco or mortar;

6. Ineffective waterproofing of exterior walls, roof, or foundations, including broken windows or doors;

7. Lack of weather protection that jeopardizes the structural integrity of walls, roofs, plumbing, electricity, or overall structural integrity, including lack of paint, lack of adequate heating, and lack of adequate ventilation;

8. Vandalism caused by lack of reasonable security precautions; and/or

9. Deterioration of any feature so as to create a hazardous condition that could require demolition for public safety.

In such cases, the building inspector shall notify the property owner of any violation of this section. Such person shall have sixty (60) days to remedy any such violation. In the event the violation is not corrected within sixty (60) days of notification, the city shall be authorized to perform all repairs necessary to correct the violation and to place a lien on the property for the costs of such repairs and reasonable administrative and legal fees


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Monday, April 13, 2009

Neglect declines in value.

5 months after owner ordered to secure the portico, the house looks exactly the same. Scaffolding is still in place, orange fencing is ripped and torn, lumber was left in a pile on the ground.

Developer did the minimum to secure the portico. Openings where vermin and rodents can enter the house remain. There's a For Sale sign in the front yard, with a price tag double what the developer paid 3 years ago at the height of the real estate market when the house had been recently occupied.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


----- Original Message -----
From: Lea Terhune
Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 7:08 PM
Subject: Re: portico, 2 Appletree Point Lane

Thank you, Joe. Communication is good. How would I know any of this unless I were a mind-reader? So the Mayor has been responsive and followed up, but it was invisible to me. I should feel better; but, respectfully, somehow it feels worse to know that the Mayor was aware of this, and still it took 3 years to fill an abandoned pool, 2 years to get a vacant property maintained, 6 months to get a compromised portico structure stabilized, and there is yet no Vacant Building Permit, and the VB fees have not been paid!

I'm sure the Mayor noticed that a felon was captured in a vacant building on So. Champlain St. and that it did not have a VB permit, was not secured, and did not have a property maintenance plan. There are very real safety risks in the city if the vacant building ordinance is not enforced. Ask the people who were assaulted and robbed in that area when a felon suspected of these crimes was hiding in a vacant building. And ask my neighbors.

Happy Holidays everyone. We know who got the job done [Norm Baldwin], who helped [Bob Schwartz, Ron Wanamaker, Preservation Burlington], and who didn't [the Code Enforcement director]. To those who helped behind the scenes, thank you. The job got done just in time -- Ch3 News tonight warned that this snow is heavy and roofs need to be cleared, or risk collapse.

Lea Terhune


----- Original Message -----
From: "Joe Reinert"
Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 10:10 AM
Subject: Re: portico, 2 Appletree Point Lane

Dear Lea,

Thank you for your e-mail to Mayor Kiss. It appears as though Norm Baldwin has answered your immediate question about the portico. The Mayor is currently out of the office but I will make sure he is aware of your additional concerns.

I do want to respectfully disagree with your statement that the Mayor has not been responsive to your concerns. Your e-mails in general regarding this property have not gone unnoticed by the Mayor or this office. You and I exchanged correspondence regarding your concerns about the pool on the property and at the time it appeared the issue had been resolved to your satisfaction (I understand that more recently you saw this as a continuing issue). When you initially raised the concerns about the portico and this property, the Mayor followed up with staff about the issue. Earlier this month the Mayor also initiated cross-department meetings to discuss how we deal with vacant buildings.

We appreciate your feedback and look forward to continuing to work constructively on these issues.

With best regards,
Joe Reinert, Assistant to the Mayor

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Mayor Kiss:

On June 27, 2008, John Ryan inspected 2 Appletree Point Lane and reported that the portico at a vacant building was structurally compromised. Nothing was done.

Two weeks ago, owner/agent of 2 Appletree Point Lane was ordered by DPW to stabilize the portico immediately. A week ago, someone dropped off a pile of 6x6s, and put an orange plastic fence around the portico area. Nothing has been done to stabilize the portico.

We had a snowstorm last night, and more snow is coming. This is the kind of weather event that could bring down the portico, and the warning fence has been scattered. The area is more of a danger today than it was two weeks ago when the owner was ordered to repair it immediately.

Our experience with this scofflaw property owner (he owes the city $4500 in vacant building fees) is that he says he is complying with a request, but he doesn't. When told to drain an abandoned swimming pool, he dropped a cheap sump pump in the pool which of course didn't work. He replaced it with another one that didn't work. It took THREE YEARS to get that pool hazard removed.

The portico won't wait three years. 6 months ago Inspector Ryan noted the condition of the portico in his report. The way this property owner flaunts the city code and orders reflects the attitude of the CE Director who waived fees and ignored complaints. All property owner had to do was SAY he was draining the pool, and the file was closed!

Mayor Kiss, the CE Director reports to you. If the portico structural issue had been addressed when Inspector Ryan reported it, we wouldn't be dealing with it now. You have ignored every email we have sent you about these problems which have been ongoing for three years, one thing after another. YOU are supposed to be in charge in this city! Please DO SOMETHING to get this portico stabilized, and to get that $4500 collected. This city needs money!

Lea Terhune, taxpayer and neighbor to vacant building at 2 Appletree Point Lane
22 Appletree Point Lane
Burlington, VT 05408

Sunday, December 14, 2008


SUMMARY: On June 27, 2008, John Ryan, city inspector, reported that the portico of 2 Appletree Point Lane was structurally compromised. Code Enforcement did nothing. On November 23, 2008, I wrote to NNE City Councilors, with copies to the Mayor, the City Attorney, DPW and the Free Press. I asked the Councilors to read the Vacant Building Code, attached for their convenience, and I asked them to look at the problem and DO SOMETHING. DPW re-inspected the portico and took action. On December 13, a truck delivered 6x6 pressure treated timbers to the site, presumably to be used to stabilize the portico. Orange plastic construction fencing was used to cordon off the work area, but no warning signs were posted. A very small amount of work was done as of Dec. 14. To be continued.....

Preservation Burlington

The Sentinel, Fall/Winter 2008

Appletree Point Farm
One of Burlington’s oldest settlements is in danger! As an agricultural entity, Appletree Point farm dates to c.1806, however ownership of the land itself can be traced to the New Hampshire Land Grants of 1763, and Burlington’s first documented settler arrived here as early as 1773. Use of this land for agricultural purposes did not happen until 1806, when Reuben F. Staniford purchased the land. The house that is now commonly referred to as the Wick House, is thought to be Mr. Staniford’s original farmhouse, built circa 1820. Saniford farmed this land until 1880, when Urban A. Woodbury II grandson of Urban Andrain Woodbury, 45th Governor of Vermont purchased the land. Woodbury maintained a herd of prize Guernsey cows here until 1931, when a devastating fire caused him to abandon farming and develop the area as a summer resort. Woodbury mysteriously abandoned this land in 1940 and moved to Ohio. At this time Oliver N. Eastman took ownership of the land and operated a prize winning dairy operation. Many of the farm buildings from this farming occupation still exist. In 1961 the farmhouse and land went up for auction and has since been a private residence. The farmhouse is significant not only because of its age and history, but also because a prominent Vermont Architect, Louis Sheldon Newton (1871-1953) was commissioned at two different times to modify the interior and exterior. It was Newton who gave the farmhouse its present appearance, by designing a character-defining two story portico on the south facade (1924), as well as a rear ell and garage. Louis Sheldon Newton is better known for architectural designs such as the 1930’s Abraham’s Block fa├žade. While plans are being developed for restoration, the house is sitting vacant and in need of routine maintenance. With lack of maintenance to the exterior envelope, the structure is subject to demolition by neglect. There is only a limited amount of time that can go by, until the building materials start failing because of the effects of Mother Nature and time. Unfortunately, this is a common problem for historic homes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Notice to DPW

----- Original Email Message -----
From: Lea Terhune
To: Robert Schwartz, Ron Wanamaker, Norm Baldwin
Cc: Gweneth Langdon, Marge Allard, Susan Dorn, Liisa Reimann, Devin Colman, Mayor Kiss, Mary O'Neil
Subject: 2 Appletree Point Lane, portico ready to fall down
Sent: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 10:05 AM

Bob, Ron:

I spoke this morning with Norm Baldwin about the portico on the historic house at Appletree Point Farm. You have both looked at it, and have determined that it is unsafe -- in fact, ready to fall down! You met with Preservation Burlington, and Code Enforcement, viewing the problem as "demolition by neglect". However, I have a deeper concern for the safety of people and animals in our neighborhood when that structure falls.

Two days ago I was walking down Appletree Point Lane, and I met two young girls who were cutting through the farm on their way home from school. They would walk right past the old house. Later that evening I realized the dangerous condition of the house portico could harm them, and it alarmed me. I called Norm Baldwin the next morning, stopped by his office, and finally connected with him today to talk with him about it. He was not aware of the danger, had not noticed it when he visited the house recently, and he is eager to speak with you about it.

You have had several contacts with the city about the condition of the portico, but the information may not have gotten to the right person, Norm Baldwin. DPW has jurisdiction when a structure is unsafe. Norm has now been alerted, and he would like to hear from you immediately since you are experts in these matters. Please call him asap. 865-5826.

I will post photographs at a website later today, and will also post follow-up information and photographs there.


Lea Terhune
22 Appletree Point Lane
Burlington, VT 05408

Burlington Municipal Code

Sec. 8-47 (e) A vacant building or structure shall be deemed adequately protected from intrusion by tresspassers and from deterioration by the weather if it satisfies the following vacant building maintenance standards:

(4) Building structure: The building shall be maintained in good repair, structurally sound and free from debris, rubbish and garbage. The building shall be sanitary. The building shall not pose a threat to the public health and safety.

(8) Decorative features: The cornices, belt courses, corbels, terra cotta trim, wall facings and similar decorative features shall be safe, anchored, and in good repair. Exposed metal, wood, or other surfaces shall be protected from the elements and against decay or rust by periodic application of weather-coating materials, such as paint or similar surface treatment.

(9) Overhanging extensions: All balconies, canopies, marquees, signs, metal awnings, stairways, fire escapes, standpipes, exhaust ducts and similar features shall be in good repair, anchored, safe and sound. Exposed metal and wood surfaces shall be protected from the elements and against decay or rust by periodic application of weather-coating materials, such as paint or similar surface treatment.

Sec. 8-47 (b) ...If the director has reason to believe that an emergency situation exists tending to create an immediate danger to the health, welfare, or safety of the general public, no notification or warrant is necessary and the director shall enter and inspect the premises pursuant to section 8-45.

----- Original Message -----
From: Lea Terhune
To: Russ Ellis ; Paul Decelles ; Kurt Wright
Cc: Mayor Kiss ; Eugene Bergman ; John Briggs
Sent: Sunday, November 23, 2008 10:39 PM
Subject: CE mostly monitors rental properties?

*please share with Craig Gutchell.

Russ Ellis, Kurt Wright, Paul Decelles:

Is City Council is aware that we get slow or no enforcement of the Vacant Building Ordinance because the CE Director has decided that it's a low priority for her office? Most of the staff time is spent on rental properties, she said, and cars parking on grass! Please consider whether this ordering of priorities is prudent, and request a review of CE office priorities and an accounting of fee collection.

I think enforcement of the vacant building code is a high priority for the city. Recently, a neighbor of mine was wakened at 2:30 am by someone prowling around his house which is adjacent to a vacant building at 2 Appletree Point Lane. A few days later, a criminal was caught hiding in a vacant building in Burlington. Please take a moment to read it the Municipal Code Vacant Building Ordinance (Chapter 8 Buildings). It is clear, well-written, simple and to the point: vacant buildings that are not maintained and secured are a blight on a neighborhood, attract vagrants and criminals, and are prime locations to conduct illegal criminal activities, including arson and drug use.

Early intervention is wise, and enforcing the Code is a preventive measure that saves the city money and protects the health and safety of residents. But you heard CE Director's excuses Thursday night: VB is a new ordinance, there hasn't been time to develop protocols for enforcement. HOGWASH! The VB ordinance was passed by City Council 8-9-99, and an MOU has been in place since 2002 when CE requested that enforcement be moved to CE jurisdiction.

After two years of inaction on vacant building 2 Appletree Point Lane, we filed an appeal with the Public Works Commission. PWC issued an order to enforce the code and collect fees on Aug 14, 2008. CE office waited a month (Sept 19, 2008) to send a letter to one of the property owners (other owner/s not addressed), and enclosed a fee invoice that was jumbled and incorrect. [Correction -- I am now told that the invoice was not sent.] Two months later, according to CE files, there has been no response from the property owners. The VB Code provides remedies for this: fines between $50 and $500 per day; and, in the case of public endangerment (structural instability), repair/stabilization can be done by the city and a lien placed on the property. That portico, reported by John Ryan on June 27, 2008 as structurally compromised, is about to come down!

Will you please come and look at the portico and judge for yourself? Soon, before it is too late? Children walk to and from school through this area. A child could be seriously injured. In June, Ryan ordered access to the area to be restricted. The owners response? Ignored the order. Please do something.