PLAINVILLE — The first of 13 oft-flooded homes on the Pequabuck River that the town is buying to demolish will probably become town property in a month, the town council learned Monday.
The purchase comes nearly 2 years after severe floods from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 inundated the low-lying neighborhood and prompted the town to adopt the purchase-and-tear down plan.
Town Manager Robert Lee said the town is in the process of buying the 13 homes. The owners have chosen to sell their properties to the town and move away from the neighborhood, which was built on a floodplain long before current laws prohibited the practice.
The town has more than $2 million in state and federal funds to buy out the homeowners at pre-flood prices, giving them sufficient equity to buy elsewhere. The homes are on Robert Street Extension and Forestville Avenue on lots that are less than 2 feet above flood stage.
The town will leave the land undeveloped after the homes are demolished.
Lee told the council that each home will be inspected for hazardous material prior to being torn down. Also, anything useful in the homes, such as furniture, water heaters and other appliances, will be salvaged and given to social service agencies to help needy residents.
The fire department will be allowed to have practice drills in the homes prior to demolition "but the drills will not involve burning," Lee told the council.
In other business Monday, the council approved a three-year contract with town public works employees that provides raises of 2.25 percent, 2.25 percent and 3.0 percent, increases the deductible on municipal medical insurance policies and makes other adjustments that will benefit the town financially.
Prior to the meeting, a resident asked the council to force owners of property with overgrown lawns and bushes to trim the vegetation, because in some places, the overgrowth makes it impossible for drivers to see until they pull into an intersection.
Council Chairwoman Katherine Pugliese said the council would investigate.
Council member Daniel Hurley said he's noticed a lot of properties in town – homes and businesses – that do not have street numbers easily visible to anyone passing by. He said the town should remind owners the numbers should be visible so emergency responders can know the actual address of a parcel.
"If these places have numbers, you can't read them," he said. "We need to do something to remind people."
The town has an ordinance, passed in 1985, that imposes a $5 fine to a property owner who ignores the requirement to have a street number on their property.
"We should remind people," council member Christopher Wazorko said, "but I'm not in favor of sending someone out to check on addresses and hand out $5 fines."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun