Judge orders Portland landlord to repair 1 building as another is torn down

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PORTLAND — One of his buildings was torn down on Feb. 6, and on Monday, landlord Gregory Nisbet learned a second will remain vacant until he brings it up to code.

Judge Peter Goranites of the Maine Unified Criminal Court signed an injunction Monday prohibiting Nisbet from renting any portion of his home at 188 Dartmouth St. until heating and plumbing are restored. The injunction also covers an attached two-story garage.

On Feb. 6, an apartment building at 20-24 Noyes St. was torn down, about a week after city officials granted the demolition permit. The home was destroyed in a Nov. 1, 2014, fire that killed six people.

City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said Goranites’ order is a step toward getting Nisbet to work with the city to remedy unsafe and illegal conditions at the Dartmouth Street building.

“We’re pleased that the judge granted our request as the property is not suitable for tenants in its current condition. This order ensures that Mr. Nisbet cannot make any rental income off this property until the violations are corrected,” Grondin said.

The building was recently home to 10 people, who agreed to leave by Feb. 15. On Monday, they were ordered to leave immediately.

“City staff are working with the displaced tenants and connecting them to our Social Services division should they require assistance,” Grondin said.

Nisbet also faces a city land use violation complaint that may be heard March 9, although Grondin said the intent is to reach a consent judgment “that would outline specific time-lines to address the violations” before another court hearing.

The city first inspected the building, about two blocks from 20-24 Noyes St., on Dec. 15, 2014, after tenants complained.

On Dec. 17, 2014, Nisbet was given 32 days to clear up violations 188 Dartmouth St., including restoring fire alarms, cleaning up rubbish inside and outside, and enclosing interior stairwells for fire protection.

On Dec. 19, Nisbet served 10 tenants with seven-day notices of eviction for violations including changing locks, locking bedroom doors, causing water damage by allowing a toilet to overflow, and creating fire hazards by using extension cords in hallways and in stairwells.

Steve Soldan, a 188 Dartmouth St. resident since last spring, last month said he and others had complained to Nisbet about plumbing and electrical problems. He said he was rented a space in a dining room and had to scrounge to get a door for what became his bedroom.

“We heat our rooms up for 20 minutes with space heaters because we are afraid of the furnace,” Soldan said.

While according to court records a tenant did not allow a re-inspection on Jan. 8, Portland Fire Department Capt. David Petrucelli, Code Enforcement Officer Chuck Fagone and Portland Fire Department Acting Assistant Chief Keith Gautreau reinspected the property on Jan. 20 and Feb. 2 and determined the violations still existed.

Petrucelli also said a sprinkler head was needed over the furnace at adjoining 186 Dartmouth St., and the building was unheated because the fuel tank was empty.

Meanwhile, Nisbet’s building at 20-24 Noyes St. could not be demolished until the cause of the fire was determined by the state Office of the Fire Marshal.

On Jan. 21, Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas announced the cause of the fire was accidental, but referred his full report to the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office for a possible criminal investigation.

“I’m not emotional about it,” next door neighbor Joel Richardson said as he watched the demolition. “I’m surprised the wheels turned fast enough to get it done.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Sidebar Elements


A judge on Feb. 9 ordered a portion of 186-192 Dartmouth St. vacated until owner Gregory Nisbet bring the building up to code, including restoring heat and plumbing. Ten tenants were already supposed to move by Sunday, Feb. 15.

An apartment building at 20-24 Noyes St. in Portland, where six people died in a Nov. 1, 2014 fire, is demolished on Feb. 6.

The Feb. 6 demolition of 20-24 Noyes St. came a week after city officials granted the demolition permit. “I’m surprised the wheels turned fast enough to get it done,” neighbor Joel Richardson said as he watched the work.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.