WATERVILLE — City councilors Tuesday voted 7-0 to sell a two-unit apartment building at 8 Grove St. to Brown House Properties for $17,500, but not before Brown House owners asked some councilors to resign.

Lindsey Booker Burrill, of Brown House, said she thinks some councilors had tarnished Brown House’s reputation at the Dec. 6 council meeting by questioning whether the city should sell the Grove Street property to her company.

She said the company is a family-owned business that buys and rehabilitates distressed properties and the blow to the company’s reputation is “infinite.”

“On the national stage, public officials have been requested to step down for much less,” she said.

The city took ownership of the property for nonpayment of taxes. The council at the Dec. 6 meeting voted 6-0 to approve the sale to Brown House following a discussion about the building itself.

Councilor Jackie Dupont, D-Ward 7, who also heads the South End Neighborhood Association and is a member of the Waterville Community Land Trust, asked on Dec. 6 whether the city should sell to Brown House. She said the company has a lot of properties in the South End “that are in various states.” She advocated for selling homes to people who would live in them. She also said there are problems with the foundation of the Grove Street building and code problems that need to be solved.

At that meeting, Mayor Nick Isgro said the city should trust Brown House, which he said has invested heavily in the city. He also said he took offense to “labeling Brown House as a slumlord. We are not going to sit here and cherry-pick who we are going to sell to.”

Burrill’s father, Sherwood Booker, who with his wife founded Brown House Properties, wrote a letter to the editor that appeared recently in the Morning Sentinel saying Dupont’s comments were insulting and inaccurate. He also spoke at Tuesday night’s council meeting, saying that after his letter was published, his office received phone calls from people thanking Brown House for its contributions to the city.

On Tuesday, Councilor Dana Bushee, D-Ward 6, blamed the Morning Sentinel for its coverage of the Dec. 6 meeting, saying she used to be a journalist, so she understands “if it bleeds, it leads.”

Bushee said she had said at the Dec. 6 meeting that she didn’t know anything about Brown House, though she did say she knew there were slumlords in the city, while not referring to Brown House as a slumlord. She said Isgro repeated the word “slumlord” when he said he took offense to labeling Brown House as a slumlord.

Bushee on Tuesday said she apologized to Brown House on her own behalf but said she was really bothered by the number of people who come to council meetings asking councilors to resign. She said she does plan to resign before her term is up because of family obligations, not because of her job on the council, which she loves, and said it was not the intent of her line of questioning Dec. 6 to imply that Brown House was a slumlord.

“It was a newspaper article; I don’t think anybody ever intended to hurt a business,” Bushee said.

She also defended Dupont, saying she doesn’t know who loves Waterville more than Dupont does and Dupont works hard to make the South End a better community.

Dupont, in defending her stance about the need for safe properties, said she lives near three homes that caught fire and the cause of one was electrical in nature, and another, heating. One of the fires resulted in a fatality, she said.

“That’s why I’ve been advocating so strongly for a second code enforcement officer,” she said.

Booker replied, “I’m pretty sure it didn’t have anything to do with Brown House Properties.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17



Comments are not available on this story.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.