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The home at 33 Circular Ave. is in line to be razed.

Two More Properties Added to Pittsfield's Demolition List

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The city secured the structure at 217 Robbins Ave. in 2017.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two more homes have been added to the demolition list.
 
The Board of Health issued orders of demolition for 33 Circular Ave. and 217 Robbins Ave. The two buildings were added to a list of homes the city demolishes because of unsafe conditions.
 
Senior Code Inspector Mark Blaisdell detailed each property to the Board of Health on Wednesday night. The two-family home on Circular Avenue has been vacant since 2011. It was still being maintained but that changed in 2016, he said, when it started to deteriorate. 
 
The home dates back to the 1930s and Blaisdell said he had been in touch with the property owner in 2016 when the issues there first arose. He encouraged the owner to go through the attorney general's receivership program while the interior of the building was still OK. The owner had not defaulted on the mortgage payments.
 
But the following year communication with the owner halted, as did any maintenance on it.
 
"In March of 2017 is when we've seen a significant change in the maintenance of the property and had no further communication," he said.
 
A condemnation order was issued after it was found that electricity was no longer servicing the property, the home was open to intruders, and the vegetation was overgrown. 
 
"It has been more than a year since the condemnation order has been issued," he said.
 
In the case of the Robbins Avenue address, the owners of the property had died. The city has attempted to reach the heirs with little luck. In April 2017, it was found open and by the following month it was broken into and the copper piping was stolen. 
 
In August 2017, the city performed a "clean and lien" to secure the property. A neighbor, meanwhile, has been maintaining the exterior of the property. 
 
"You do have a good neighbor in the West End that is taking care of the property and it is much appreciated," Blaisdell said.
 
However, there is still illegal dumping going on and taxes have not been paid. The city put the tax lien up for auction earlier this year but there were no buyers.
 
"There are taxes due on this property in excess of $8,0000," Blaisdell said.
 
In other business, the Board of Health agreed to strengthen its language regarding the sale of e-cigarettes.
 
Health Director Gina Armstrong said it has been found that 91.4 percent of samples of vaping products that claim to have zero nicotine in them actually had nicotine. The new language restricts the sale of any vaping-related product to those who have tobacco permits to keep the products from being sold elsewhere. 
 
"The products that are known the have nicotine area but without this language in there, a store could potentially sell these products and say these don't have nicotine and don't need a Board of Health permit," Armstrong said.
 
She said none of the city's retailers are currently doing so but the language change does protect against that happening. The change would go into effect on Jan. 1. 
 
The growth in the popularity of vaping has become a concern for the Health Department. Armstrong said there has been a 30 percent growth in e-cigarette usage in the last five years and 60 percent of local youth have reported having tried it. She added that 62 percent of the youth surveyed said they didn't believe there was nicotine in the products.
 
She fears that vaping serves as a starter product for smoking.

Tags: blight,   board of health,   demolition,   e-cigarettes,   

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