News Column

Dufton Road dispute rages on

June 12, 2014

By Bill Kirk, Andover Townsman, Mass.

June 12--Joseph Boyer knows a thing or two about the mortgage foreclosure crisis.

That's because, he says, he's in the middle of one -- and has been since 2008.

"It all comes down to one, simple thing," Boyer, of 2 Dufton Road, said last week. "Why, after five years, can't they get me out of this house? All we have ever asked for is for the bank to prove they own the house."

He says they can't because the document has been lost and ownership of the property is in some kind of financial and legal limbo.

That's why, he said, he continues to live there even though everyone wants him out.

Boyer, who has owned the three-family home since 1988, has been the focus of attention of banks, courts, town officials and neighbors for years because he refuses to leave the foreclosed property, which is now littered with a controlled chaos of items, ranging from old stoves and TVs to children's toys and pet carriers.

He said the bank can't lay claim to the property, but is trying to evict him anyway. Until he can get clear title to the land, he said, he has no incentive to clean it up. Nor does he think he should leave, since the bank would essentially be "stealing" his property.

But neighbors aren't buying it.

Jeanne Teichert, who lives across the street and has a perfect view of the property from her front porch, said while she feels badly for Boyer's children, "I have no sympathy for him. It's decreasing our property values. If you can't afford to live here, then move."

George Cooke, who lives next door, blames inaction by the town.

"How come they haven't cited him?" he asked. "They should evict him, tear the house down and sell the land. I want him out."

Town Manager Reginald "Buzz" Stapczynski said the town has done everything it could since 2008, but that it's in the bank's hands. He called Boyer a "hoarder" who has some issues.

Health Agent Tom Carbone said there's not much he can do, since the property is not considered a health hazard.

"The stuff he is hoarding is outside," Carbone said. "It's not having an impact on the health and safety of other people."

When asked about the old stoves and TV sets, railroad ties and children's toys, tents and tarps, Carbone said that one man's trash is another man's treasure.

"What is trash?" he asked. "You get into dangerous ground when you start interpreting things. We don't regulate the aesthetics. It's not something we get into."

Boyer admitted during an interview while seated on lawn chairs in his front yard last Friday that some of the stuff around the house is "junk" and could probably be discarded.

And, he said, he sympathizes with the neighbors who have to look at it.

He says many of the items were part of his handyman business, which is more or less on hold since brain tumor surgery several years back left him unable to work for long periods of time. He said the stuff is also part of his recycling business. For instance, a huge pile of metal that was on the front lawn is now gone -- taken to a scrap yard.

Three enormous, white tanks in metal cages, he said, are filled with rainwater and may be used in the future for hydroponic gardening.

"My family can replenish itself for a year," he said, adding that it was "in preparation for the economic collapse that will affect the entire world ... when the (expletive deleted) hits the fan."

"This is all stuff that's stuff," he said, waving his arm around the property. "A lot of it has become junk. I wanted to put a two-story addition on to the house, but the town wouldn't let me so I put up these tents."

Three Quonset hut-style sheds hold tools, electric cords, coiled rope, huge slabs of granite countertops and dozens of plastic bins -- some empty, some full.

Leaning against the outside of the structures are assorted folding chairs. An old, multi-level bird cage sits near a half-dozen plastic pet carriers. A structure made of railroad ties topped by a blue-tarp roof holds more folded chairs and a few children's bicycles. An old tent, its door collapsed, sits near a towering pine tree.

Boyer can explain each item. For instance, the collection of railroad ties on the pavement in front of his property will eventually become part of a retaining wall that will hold up an expanded front yard.

The truck trailer out front is in case of emergency evacuations. When the sheriff finally does arrive with the paperwork that will get him evicted, he said, he will have 48 hours to move everything from the house into the trailer.

Meanwhile, he won't let anyone in his house. When asked by a reporter for a tour inside, he quickly replied, "No," adding that he was getting tired.

When town officials showed up a couple years ago to inspect his roof, he wouldn't let them into the second-floor apartment.

Boyer said the whole situation, which he blames on the banks, has taken a toll on him and his family. His 10-year-old daughter had to stay home from school Friday after a TV news station aired a segment about the situation the previous night.

He said the whole matter started in 2008 when the economic collapse led to his two tenants losing their jobs, causing a loss in rental income.

He soon got behind on his mortgage payments and the bank wasn't willing to make a deal, he said. Instead, they initiated foreclosure proceedings, but didn't adequately notify him of a pending foreclosure auction.

So he appealed. Other court orders from the bank were also appealed.

A recent order to have him removed was not enforced by deputy sheriffs because they said Boyer had paperwork showing that the case was still under appeal. Meanwhile, his current tenant, a 29-year-old man from Lowell and his disabled girlfriend, are also being pressured by the bank to either pay rent or leave the premises.

Boyer, who lives with his wife, Nancy, and their two children, said he can't really say where he resides.

"Do I live here?" he asked, pointing to himself. "I live where I am. The mailbox says 2-6 Dufton Road. But that's just a mailing address. That's not the house. I have to be careful. If you use their language, you die."

By "their," he means the banks, the lawyers, the judges and the system that has turned millions of homeowners out of their homes because of a crisis that he says was cooked up by massive financial institutions.

"They caused the economy to collapse," he said. "They made money by causing the collapse, foreclosing on properties and then re-selling them and getting all the fees and everything else. The depth of the scam is unbelievable."


(c)2014 the Andover Townsman (Andover, Mass.)

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Source: Andover Townsman (MA)

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