NAUGATUCK-Former burgess Lois Ackerman is still fighting to keep her family home, despite a demolition order upheld by the Building Code Board of Appeals and the Board of Mayor and Burgesses.
The home, located at 146 Walnut St., has fallen into disrepair and was deemed a hazardous property by the borough in the summer of 2007.
Last November, the Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted to extend the demolition date to Jan. 10 to give Ackerman time over the holidays to prepare her property following an emotional public hearing.
Ackerman has staved off demolition thus far, and filed an appeal to have the board’s decision overturned.
The appeal was filed a week before the demolition date in Waterbury Superior Court through her lawyer, Kevin McSherry.
“From the start, we’ve always wanted to have an opportunity to repair the property and bring it back to a point where it meets the building codes in the state of Connecticut,” McSherry said.
In November, members of the board expressed sympathy for Ackerman’s situation, but stated that public safety was more important given the dilapidated condition of the house.
According to Ackerman, she tried every recourse available to her to repair the house since she was first notified that it was a hazardous property several years ago. However, at the time, she said she had not been successful in securing the necessary funds.
Since the board’s decision, Ackerman has continued to try to find sources and funds to do the work, according to McSherry.
He said Ackerman is seeking help of non-profit agencies, including an application to Americare’s HomeFront program, a community-based, volunteer-driven home repair program that provides free repairs to low-income homeowners.
“We’re still working to try to make the repairs so Ms. Ackerman has an opportunity to save her house,” McSherry said.
McSherry said he is defending Ackerman’s right to have an independent judge take another look at the facts of the case.
“In denying the appeal of the plaintiff, the defendant ‘Board’ acted illegally, arbitrarily and in abuse of its discretion vested in it by the law,” the appeal claims.
The appeal claims that the board exceeded its statutory powers and did not have jurisdiction over the matter.
“The plaintiff clearly demonstrated that the house could be repaired,” the appeal states.
In the appeal, Ackerman requested the court reverse the decision of the board.
The board has filed an answer to the lawsuit and is defending the appeal, according to Borough Attorney Edward Fitzpatrick.
The case has not yet been assigned a hearing, he said.
“The position of the borough is that decision of the Board of Mayor and Burgesses Nov. 16 was correct and should be upheld,” Fitzpatrick said.
Building Inspector Bill Herzman, who was also named in the appeal, said although Ackerman has every right to appeal, he will keep presenting the town’s side of the story.
“The structure is not a safe building and it should be either removed or entirely rebuilt,” Herzman said.
Since the hole in the building’s roof has not been repaired, the winter’s snow is now inside the house, he said.