By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Louis Peracchi keeps his windows closed, his blinds drawn. He doesn’t want to look next door or breathe the air he says has given him health problems.
The problem is what remains of the house at 99 Franklin St., a home gutted by fire last September, but still standing.
“I live right next to it,” the Folsom Street resident said. “I’m always all stuffed up, I have to always shut my windows, my blinds are all down.”
His long wait could soon be over; code enforcement director Robert Mackey said it’s been a long process, but the building soon will be demolished.
The homeowners, William and Catherine Rudd of Salem, had rented out the home since 2007.
After the fire, Catherine Rudd told the Derry News she and her husband had originally lived in the Franklin Street home.
At that time, she said they had good insurance and considered taking the building down.
But nine months later, the house is still standing, much to Peracchi’s dismay.
“I’m coughing and it smells terrible when it rains,” he said.
Peracchi said he thought the homeowners would do something about the house before now, either tear it down or make improvements.
“I can’t live like this,” he said. “I pay good taxes that are not cheap. But they haven’t done a darn thing.”
Mackey said the town has been in contact with the Rudds. They have been gathering the information necessary for demolition, including any potential asbestos abatement work.
Mackey said the homeowners may have had longer than expected because insurance issues may have drawn out the process. Officials regularly drive by the house to make sure there are no public health dangers, he said.
Assistant building inspector Robert Wentworth acknowledged progress has been at a snail’s pace.
He said most properties in town are dealt with quickly following a fire or other home disaster.
“It’s one of the longest I’ve seen,” he said. “Others have gone down and within a week there is a construction trailer there. Usually the process is quick.”
For Peracchi, it’s been long enough.
He said all the rain hasn’t helped; wet weather seems to make his symptoms worse.
The appearance is a problem, too, he said. The building is still surrounded with yellow caution tape and some fencing has fallen down.
“It makes my house look terrible,” he said. “I can’t even have a cookout on the Fourth of July. I like to have cookouts. I have a nice back yard.”
He’s also worried neighborhood children might wander over and injure themselves.
“Somebody could get hurt,” he said. “How can the residents (in the neighborhood) put up with this?”
Rudd said it’s difficult when something like this happens. She hoped the neighbors would be considerate and patient.
“We are tearing it down and we are going to rebuild,” she said. “We know it smells, but until you go through the process of trying to rebuild, it’s none of their business.”