It has seemed like a problem with no end.
But even a last-minute attempt to save the home, which has been the focus of complaints by neighbors for more than two decades, couldn’t save the home at 1627 Robbins St. from demolition.
At the last Augusta City Council meeting Sept. 4, Harold Miller, who owns the home, was told if he was going to take any action to save the home at that address, he’d better move quickly because the demolition would take place in 10 to 14 days.
The home is set for demolition Tuesday. But that didn’t stop a former Code Official from the City of Andover from attempting an end run around the process in an attempt to save the home.
According to discussion at the meeting, Miller had negotiated the sale of the fire-damaged home to two different reputable contractors in Augusta. One even reportedly had an offer of $25,000 on the table with Miller, who declined it.
Surprisingly, Miller accepted an offer of $1,000 from Kirk Crisp and his wife and he transferred the deed to them. Crisp told the Augusta City Council that he planned to finish the repairs on the home and move into it as his primary residence.
“I am going to clean it up and use it as my residence,” Crisp said. “It will be the nicest home on the block.”
City Attorney David All said a deed was not proof that the bank that holds the $65,000 lien on the home would agree to allow the Crisps to become the owner of the home.
“The bank is still a major player in the property,” All said.
Some on the council weren’t convinced that this move to accept the lowest of three offers on the property wasn’t just another ruse being perpetrated by Miller, who has carefully navigated the city’s ordinances in the past.
“I would just assume it be torn down rather than do this,” said City Inspector Dan Allen.
“This smacks of being another backdoor Harold Miller stunt,” said Councilor Sue Jones.
Mike Wallace agreed.
“Why would he sell this property for $1,000 when he could sell it for $25,000?” Wallace asked.
“You bought a $60,000 debt for $1,000,” Councilor Matt Malone said. “That doesn’t make sense.”
Crisp assured the council that he was merely looking to move into the residence. But the fact that the deed could easily be transferred back to Miller or anyone else in 60 days or anytime in the future was a major concern to the governing body.
Page 2 of 2 - Anita Elliott, who lives on the same block with the property in question, implored the council not to give in on the plan to demolish the home.
“This is just another game by Miller,” Elliott said. “All he has is a deed. He had a deal with Kelly Modlin and Walt Sharp and now this. The neighbors just want it gone. We don’t want to be back here again.”
The council needed no action to allow the demolition to proceed. Mayor Kristey Williams asked the councilors if anyone had a desire to make a motion to postpone the action. None of the six present made a motion. Holly Harper and Mike Huddleston were absent.
The lack of action by the council left the former order in place and demolition is set to continue at the home Tuesday, Sept. 18.