AUGUSTA — Tenants of a York Street apartment building were ordered to move out today by city officials who deemed it unsafe.

The building, owned by Augusta landlord Jim Pepin, had safety code violations including a lack of working smoke detectors, undersized windows and blocked exits, among other issues, according to Robert Overton, a code enforcement officer for the city.

The building at 6 York St., in the Sand Hill neighborhood, also had some broken and boarded-up windows and appeared to be infested with bed bugs and fleas, according to city officials.

“At the end of the day, we’re just not comfortable allowing people to live here while it is brought up to code,” Overton said outside the blue, dilapidated apartment building, which had a camper trailer in the back that had a roof and sides covered almost entirely by gray duct tape. “This is going to displace three people. But there’s no doubt, it’s for their own good.”

Overton said three tenants, two brothers and their uncle, lived together on the second floor and were displaced. The third floor was unoccupied, and the tenants of the first floor apartment were moving out anyway, Overton said.

Kevin Vigue, Joseph Ronald Vigue, and Roger Nadeau lived in the second floor apartment, their home for about 20 years.

“We’d like to stay together, and I’m worried about my cats,” Kevin Vigue said. “I don’t know where we’re going to go.”

The three began moving out after police accompanying Overton and Raenae Moore, the city’s health officer, and fire department officials told them this morning they could no longer stay in the building because it is unsafe.

Overton said police were called to assist but found no issues that required police action.

Joseph Vigue said he was woken by city officials who came into his bedroom. The agitated man said, after throwing some of his belongings off the second story porch onto the ground below, the building should be condemned and said he thinks it will be torn down, not refurbished.

Overton said the building was not being condemned, but he had issued an order determining it to be unfit for occupancy and directing the owner to make improvements.

Pepin could not be reached for comment this afternoon.

Overton said Pepin said he would comply with the city’s order and bring the building up to code.

Initially a woman working for Pepin, who wouldn’t comment, told tenants they would be put up for a couple of nights, and they would be given some money, but after that they were on their own for housing.

However Overton said later today Pepin had agreed to put the tenants up temporarily in another apartment building until a long-term apartment in another of his buildings became available.

He said the city would buy inflatable mattresses for the three men to avoid bringing their possibly bed bug-infested beds from York Street to their next apartment.

The vacant third-floor apartment of the building was the site of a June 9 stabbing in which the tenant, Amy Delesline, said she was stabbed 10 times by her estranged husband after he broke into the apartment while she slept. Her estranged husband, David Delesline, has since been indicted on charges of elevated aggravated assault and aggravated assault.

Overton said he inspected the building after noticing it had potential life safety code issues while inspecting another building across the street. He said the owner allowed the inspection.

The building was built in 1928 and is valued by the city at $103,300, according to assessing records.

Pepin owns more than 30 properties in the city, most of them apartment buildings.

Overton said he previously sent a letter to Pepin telling him about safety code violations at two of his other properties, to which Pepin responded today. Overton said Pepin said he would bring the buildings up to code.

Overton said an inspection of most apartment buildings as old as the 6 York St. building would likely identify some safety code issues, but not issues as serious as those found today. He said the city works with tenants and landlords in those situations to make sure the tenants aren’t made homeless and end up in even less safe living situations as a result of enforcement of code violations.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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