Repairs by volunteers allow Bath couple to keep their home

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BATH — Thanks to repairs made to their home by volunteers, Alan and Yvonne Orchard no longer face the threat of eviction by the city.

The case was in West Bath District Court a second time Monday, after a judge last month said he wanted more time for discussion.

But by Monday, Code Enforcement Officer Scott Davis had been back to the Windjammer Way house with a structural engineer to review repairs made largely by a volunteer, Russell DuPree of Freeport, with help from several Bath Iron Works employees.

That work brought the house “to the point where we don’t feel it’s in danger of collapsing,” Davis said Monday. “So we … withdrew our request … for a court order ordering them to leave.”

Repairs included patching a hole in the roof and blocking and shoring underneath the building, he said.

DuPree said he was trying to buy the Orchards some time to look for an apartment. “They were between the rock, on the one hand – their collapsing house – and a hard place, not being able to find affordable housing,” he said.

Davis said he and City Solicitor Roger Therriault would now talk with City Manager Bill Giroux and the City Council “about whether we need to be involved with this any further; I’m thinking we won’t.”

The City Council ruled 7-1 on Dec. 5, 2012, that the Orchards’ home was dangerous. Davis posted the house later that month, and told the Orchards they would be in violation of the city code if they chose to live there after that point. He had deemed the building dangerous after he inspected it with a structural engineer last September.

Davis said the City Council may now have to rescind its dangerous building declaration.

Therriault had yet to talk with the engineer about whether the repairs were adequate to prevent the building from becoming dangerous again in the future.

“We’re very happy that they can stay there,” Davis said.

The Orchards late last year did not believe repair of the dilapidated 1920 house was an option. They looked into moving to a partially subsidized one-bedroom apartment on Bluff Road.

Yvonne Orchard, 55, who lives at the house with husband Alan Orchard, an 81-year-old former carpenter, said Monday that they turned down the Bluff Road option, but are still looking for other housing.

In the meantime, “we’re going to stay (on Windjammer Way) for a little while,” she said.

The Orchards are “very glad” about the outcome of Monday’s day hearing, she said. “Now we can relax.”

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

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.