GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

November 26, 2012

Essex property dogs local police

Western Ave. site dogs Essex police

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ESSEX — Following several phone calls last week, Essex police officers are searching for the owner of the house at 211 Western Ave. after a series of complaints connected with the property last week.

According to the police logs, nearby residents called on Nov. 18 about missing boat trailers from the property, on Nov. 21 about people illegally dumping trash on the front lawn, and on Nov. 23 about hearing the sound of breaking glass nearby.

Brenda Harrell, clerk for the town’s Assessor Office, told the Times Monday that, as far as she knows, all of the records are up to date, and the property belongs to Charles Steward. According to town records, Steward bought the property in 2002, and it is currently assessed at $363,000.

Police Chief Peter Silva, however, said Monday he has been meeting with the building inspector and other town staff to determine how to get in touch with the property owner. The process has not been easy, he said.

“It’s a slow process, we get a little bit of information at a time,” Silva said.

Harrell also said Steward has a different mailing address — one at 100 Federal St., Boston.

According to Virginia Boutchie, the tax collector for the town, all the taxes have been paid and the house is not being foreclosed upon.

”Foreclosures are not prevalent in Essex, but it does happen from time to time,” she said.

Silva said that, initially, the boat trailers were thought to be stolen, as Western Ave residents called police when the trailers went missing, but Silva said on Monday it is now unclear what happened to them. As for the sound of breaking glass, it was most likely a car accident near the house which was not reported, as parts of headlights were found nearby, he said. He also suspected the building materials were being used to repair the property, not left there as trash, as one resident was concerned about the dumping of debris on the property.

Silva said that, while there may be no laws being broken or crimes being committed, he does have some concerns about the vacant property.

”The tanks in the three boats may still have gas in them, there may be food in the fridge still, there are a lot of unanswered questions,” he said.

Silva said some of these things may become an issue down the line and has notified the town Board of Health about the issue, and he intends to notify the conservation commission. In addition, Silva has been contacted by other Essex residents who may know more about the status of the house.

”We’re not going gangbusters on this,” Silva said. “There are no laws against having an unsightly home.”

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.