The owner of the former Forster Mill in Wilton paid back taxes Tuesday, avoiding a scheduled vote by town residents Tuesday night on whether to foreclose on the property.
Owner Adam Mack paid the $8,469 in back taxes owed on the decaying mill property hours before a scheduled 7 p.m. special town meeting at which residents could have voted to foreclose.
Town Manager Rhonda Irish said in an email that the special town meeting still will be held, since it had been called and posted, and residents can ask questioons about the mill, but no action is needed.
A crew was in the process of tearing the empty mill down in July 2011 until asbestos was reported after a small fire. The demolition was halted and the mill has been vacant ever since.
Selectmen previously have said they expect to bear the brunt of the cost to tear down the mill complex because Mack does not have the $200,000 to $300,000 the demolition may require.
If the building had been taken by foreclosure, the town would have been obligated by a local ordinance to tear it down, because it is an unsafe structure.
The town has a suit pending against Mack, after the Board of Selectmen unanimously voted last year to take civil action against him for an order of demolition. The selectmen cited a lack of progress in the demolition of the property.
At the time the suit was filed, Mack, a former Republican state representative from Standish, was serving a six-month federal prison sentence for an unrelated incident, but a representative acting on his behalf said Mack hoped to pay for the demolition work by selling metal from the building.
However, all the valuable metal had been stripped from the building during a previous effort in 2011.
The 2011 demolition work stopped that summer because employees reported improper removal of asbestos from the building. No one had inspected the mill site for the presence of asbestos before the demolition, a violation of Department of Environmental Protection rules.
While cleaning up the remaining mess, an asbestos removal expert called it the worst asbestos site he’s seen in Maine in 30 years.
Before his employees reported the violations, Downeast Construction, owned by Ryan Byther, removed and sold piping worth an estimated $250,000 from the site. He was fined $154,200 earlier this year by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and removed from the project. At the time, Byther was serving a six-month jail sentence for an unrelated incident.