The select board of West Burke is in a forgiving mood

If it means a blighted site in the village is finally cleaned up after nearly two years, the select board of West Burke is in a forgiving mood. $33,000 of forgiveness, in fact.  That’s how much in $100/day fines Rick Schwag has been accumulating for almost a year for failing to clear his burned property at 4067 U.S. Route 5. The home was destroyed by fire on Aug. 20, 2020. The structure was deemed a total loss, and Schwag was told he had one year to either clear the site or rebuild. He did neither, and town officials started the fine clock on the one-year anniversary of the fire. At one point, Schwag decided he was willing to sell, but accumulating fines and unpaid property taxes became sticking points.  But now, a real estate transaction appears possible.  Schwag and John Mello, who owns the property directly south of Schwag’s, have a signed purchase and sales agreement.  A year ago, before the daily fines kicked in, John’s son, Jacob, thought a sale was imminent, but Schwag failed to strike the deal.  This time it’s different as both parties have signed the sales agreement. The closing was scheduled for July 5, but it didn’t happen because the outstanding fines issue.  But while the select board is willing to forgive, they won’t forget.  Board members decided that John Mello will have a responsibility going forward to make sure the property once cleaned up stays that way or else he’ll instantly start out with a $5,000 fine.  Mello said on Tuesday that the closing on the property should happen next week. 

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