Sunday, March 9, 2014
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The city of Biddeford is taking the owner of the Lincoln Mill to court over the condition of the clock tower that now rests on the ground and the deteriorating fence in front of it along Lincoln Street in Biddeford.
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
But more than five years later, the clock tower remains in the same spot. Its condition came to the attention of the code enforcement office last summer when a resident filed a complaint.
In a notice of violation dated July 18, 2012, code enforcement officer George Montieth said the clock tower has to be removed because the owners do not have a permit to keep it in its current location and it does not meet building codes. The clock tower is a fire hazard and has "become a blighting problem," Montieth wrote.
Montieth also addressed the condition of the fence that runs along the Lincoln Mill property and between the clock tower and the sidewalk. He described the fence as being in "major disrepair."
"Propping 2x4s against the fence and tying it together with a rope or chain is not structurally sound or in good repair," he wrote.
Montieth referred questions about the clock tower to Roby Fecteau, the city's director of code enforcement, who did not return calls for comment.
Giese said Bennett disputes he is the owner of the fence. However, city records show the fence was installed by a previous Lincoln Mill owner and is the responsibility of Bennett and his company.
A meeting with city officials could help the mill owners come up with a plan for the clock tower until it is restored, Giese said. Some ideas batted around include shrink-wrapping the tower, building a foundation for it or moving it to another part of the property to make it less visible. Bennett may also find a way to raise money to help fund the restoration, he said.
Aurelie Wallach, chairwoman of the Biddeford Historic Preservation Commission, said the commission could advise Bennett about the clock tower restoration, but otherwise plays no role in how the situation plays out. The clock tower is a city icon that now shows neglect that does not accurately reflect the work Bennett and Betjemann have put into the building, she said.
"(The clock tower) is a symbol of our city and we're missing it," she said.
Staff Writer Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at: