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Judge wants more time to discuss removing couple from Bath house

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Judge wants more time to discuss removing couple from Bath house

BATH — The residents of a house deemed unsafe by the city, who face possible removal from their home, are due to return to court Feb. 11.

After a brief hearing Jan. 17 at West Bath District Court Jan. 17, Judge John David Kennedy said he wanted more time to discuss the case than had been allotted, Code Enforcement Officer Scott Davis said.

"Given that it's putting someone out of their home, potentially, he wanted to really delve into it a little more thoroughly," Davis said.

Alan Orchard, 81, a former carpenter who lives at 45 Windjammer Way with his wife Yvonne, has said he does not believe repair of their dilapidated 1920 house is an option. They have looked into moving to a partially subsidized one-bedroom apartment on Bluff Road, which they have been told would be available soon.

"As always, my hope is that the Orchards will be in other housing" by the time of the next hearing, Davis said.

But the Orchards plan to stay put, at least for now.

"We kind of want to find out what happens" at the February hearing, Yvonne Orchard, 55, said on Monday.

The City Council ruled 7-1 on Dec. 5, 2012, that the Orchards' home is dangerous. Two weeks later the council gave the couple four months to decide if they will repair or demolish the building. If they choose demolition, that must occur within 11 months.

Davis posted the house Dec. 29, 2012, and told the Orchards they would be in violation of the city code if they chose to live there after that point. He previously deemed the building dangerous after he inspected it with a structural engineer last September.

The city wants the court to order the Orchards to leave the house. If the judge agrees, and the Orchards do not leave voluntarily, the city could take the couple back to court on contempt charges, Davis said.

He has said putting the Orchards out on the street is the last thing he wants to do.

Alan Orchard has acknowledged that the house he and his wife have lived in for 26 years is in bad shape, and said they have tried to find another place, but money is their problem.

Yvonne Orchard said last month that the city has offered them temporary housing in Brunswick, but that they turned it down out of concern about the pipes freezing at their Windjammer Way house.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.