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ZBA Grants Four-Month Extension for Demers Property

Owners of damaged Martin Avenue home is considering appealing decision.

A Martin Avenue family displaced since an oil spill at their home five years ago got something of a "good news/bad news" decision from the Salem Zoning Board of Adjustment Thursday night.

The good news is the board is allowing the family to continue having a mobile home on their property as they attempt to clean up the 21 Martin Ave. dwelling still facing significant problems.

The bad news for the family is they did not get the 12 month extension they were seeking, instead the board granted a four-month extension.

In an e-mail Friday, Michael Demers, whose mother, Suzanne, owns the home, said the family is considering appealing the ZBA's decision.

Demers and his stepfather, Gerald Troisi, appeared before the board Thursday night. 

They asked for the year extension as they attempt to solicit donations from local contractors, builders and home improvement businesses to help.

On Feb. 6, 2007, over 200 gallons of home heating oil flooded their basement. The Demerses said it was because an employee of Haffner's Oil in Lawrence, Mass., overfilled their tank.

But they lost their court case against Haffner's, Haffner's insurer Acadia, and two companies responsible for the clean-up, Enpro Services and Ambrose Environmental Management, Inc. 

In response, Michael has started the "Campaign For Mom's Home." It's an effort centered around replacing or fixing the foundation of the home that Michael said was once valued at over $300,000 and now is assessed at $55,000.

On Friday, Demers said the one-year extension "will help and give us the needed time."

The family has appeared before the ZBA on several occasions seeking extensions to continuing using the mobile home on the property. The consensus of both the board and the Demerses was that this will be the last time they appear before the board.

ZBA Chair Gary Azarian read from a letter from the N.H. Department of Environmental Services from August stating the home. Azarian said from the state's perspective "the house is clean and the house is livable."

Demers insisted the state's opinion is based on an acceptable level for the oil remediation at the home and did not take into account broken pipes, $10,000 worth of mold damage and that there is no heating oil tank in the house.

The board expressed sympathy for the Demerses, including the opinion of board vice chair Steve Diantgikis.

"There is a very human element here we all should consider," Diantgikis said.

At Diantgikis' suggestion, the board elected to give the family a 120-day extension on the mobile home.

Michael Demers said Friday that he's worried about the family's ability to get the work done in four months.

"We believe in any case, that to repair this home would take much more than 4 months," he said. "And we are trying to raise money and get people and companies involved."

In the meantime, Demers recently completed this commercial being played on local radio and posted on YouTube as they attempt to further their cause.

Riley Reid November 13, 2012 at 03:23 PM
"There is a very human element here we all should consider," Diantgikis said." Yes there is and no one is mentioning the other residents on the street who have had a mobile trailer parked in their nice neighborhood for 5yrs. What's that doing to their property values if they are thinking about selling and moving elsewhere. At some point there must be an end.
Jeff Hatch November 13, 2012 at 05:36 PM
I said the same thing weeks ago. If I was on this board I would've voted No for that very reason. If you listened to the applicant's testimony closely you would of realized 1. They stated the last time they were before the board that in was still going through the legal prosses. At this meeting when questioned about the dates on the letter from the state they admitted that the legal process was already completed when they appeared before the board for the last extention. 2. They talked about the pipes freezing and bursting,,, and stated all the damage was in the basement. When asked about a time line of repairs they explained they were going through the process of trying to find dontions (material amd Labor) through phone calls & public service anouncements because they couldn't afford the cost of repairs. They also stated that all there belonging were in storage. My questions are why are they paying for that when if the damage is in the basement why couldn't they store them in the main portion of the home. I'd also want to see financial statements of the leagal fees- if they were paying for it then it may have been wiser just to pay for the repairs of the home instead. 3. The rules state the hardship must not be as a result of the applicant's own actions... This had been going on for at least 3/4 years now time to put it to an end and worry about the right of the surrounding properity owners
Riley Reid November 13, 2012 at 07:57 PM
I see decisions like this and compare them to other decisions i've seen this board make and one thing that stands out is there is NO consistency. Someone I know saw my post and told me these people were trying to get on the Ellen show to get some help. I don't know if that's true but I hope that's not why they are dragging their feet. So I missed it, did they give Porters a business permit on Atkinson RD. That was a result of his own actions, a divorce if I recall.
Jeff Hatch November 13, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Were they trying to get on the ED show -yes according to their own testimony during the ZBA meeting. I'm not aware of the Porter applicant. I usally don't watch these meeting but the Demers petition was highly publicized and since I was on the board in 07 when it first came up I watched it online while I was in Atlanta
Riley Reid November 13, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Thanks. The people I usually see on ED are in much more dire straits than the Demers. I don't think they'd make that cut
Michael November 27, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Mr. Reid, you know, You and Mr. Hatch seem to have alot to say posting all these comments and having all these questions. Perhaps, you should go visit www.haffnersoilspill.com to become better informed of the situation. Our dear neighbors and people of the community have been very patient and supportive and we are very grateful for this, unlike You and Mr. Hatch. Perhaps, both of you have nothing else better to do with your time. Mr. Reid, the mobile home has not been on the property for 5 years and we are not thinking of selling or moving elsewhere! Mr. Hatch, your comments mean absolutely nothing to anyone anymore! You are no longer on the ZBA...Thank God!
Riley Reid November 28, 2012 at 08:02 PM
@Michael. It's "MRS", and I stick by my comments. I am not one to sit back and wait for someone to help me, I help myself. This has gone on way too long and I am glad I do not live in your neighborhood.
Michael November 29, 2012 at 10:13 PM
I apologize for getting your title wrong Mrs.Reid, you may stick to your comments all you like. You still have no clue as to what happened to my mother or what she has been through, through no fault of her own. Perhaps, if this happened to your mother you might have a different opinion...maybe not! The companies involved ruined her home, and left it in an unlivable condition as a result of their lengthy clean up she was left in over $200,000 in debt! Yes, Mrs. Reid we lost court case against 4 big companies, it does not mean the decision was right! No one is sitting around here! Yes, Mrs. Reid we are doing a fundraiser and reaching out to contractors and building suppliers to help her. I am certainly glad that you do not live in our neighborhood too! Again, maybe you should go to www.haffnersoilspill.com and read documents and information to become better informed! Mrs. Reid, who delivers oil to you? Is it Haffners Oil Company?
Riley Reid November 30, 2012 at 07:30 PM
We get our oil from Fred Fuller. Happy Holidays !

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