Sudbury man who owns fire-ravaged eyesore in Dorchester fights city efforts to end rat infestation there

97 Mt. Ida Rd.

Note the fresh plywood nailed up by a city-hired contractor.

James Dickey, who has been feuding with the city of Boston for more than 10 years over his three-decker at 97 Mt. Ida Rd., is now fighting a city attempt to do something about all the rats that nearby residents say have taken up occupancy there.

ISD last Friday asked a Boston Housing Court judge to give it permission to hire contractors to kill the rats and seal their burrows and to clean up the property - and to then attach a lien to the property for the costs, which would mean Dickey could not sell it without paying the city first.

ISD filed the request after it says Dickey failed to comply with a March ISD demand that he hire a pest-control company to deal with the rats, trim overgrown weeds and shrubs and remove "trash and debris" from the property. ISD says Dickey ignored its March "public-health nuisance" declaration and had prohibited the city and its contractors from entering the property and fixing the problems that neighbors have been filing complaints about for some four years now.

A housing-court judge granted the city's request the same day it was requested. Dickey responded this week first by suing the city - claiming it had some nerve covering the decaying building's windows with plywood and allegedly barring him from his own property - then by seeking to have the city's housing-court action moved to federal court.

Dickey, acting as his own attorney, claims the matter deserves federal attention because the city attempt to "seize and destroy" his property in a non-emergency situation violates his constitutional due-process rights. A federal judge promptly denied his request to issue a temporary restraining order against the city that would have blocked any cleanup efforts. If a judge agrees to consider the due-process issues, the city would have the chance to respond first before the judge makes a ruling, a process that could take months.

The inside of 97 Mt. Ida Rd. has been exposed to the elements since 2011, when a fire heavily damaged it, but Dickey's feud goes back further, to when ISD battled him over conditions for tenants in the building. In 2015, Dickey said he was awaiting an insurance check so that he could rebuild from the 2011 fire.

Dickey even once sued a former tenant who testified against him - a case he ultimately lost when the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled the tenant had his own rights under the First Amendment and that even if he did make a mistake about one particular problem, all the other problems inside the property meant Dickey was not harmed by that statement.

Dickey has had similar court battles with ISD over a property he owned on East 4 Street in South Boston.

State housing-court complaint against Dickey (2.5M PDF).
Dickey's request to have case moved to federal court (135k PDF).
Dickey's complaint against ISD (306k PDF).

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Comments

Classy. Seems like instead of

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Classy. Seems like instead of spending all that time pretending to be a lawyer, he could instead grab a hammer, rent a dumpster, and start taking responsibility for his property.

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The guy's a winner

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It was a run-down POS even before the fire. He clearly has mental health issues. Too bad the city can't just force him into a buy out and knock this down.

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Arsonist?

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I mean come on, doesn't this guy sound like he would burn down his own property to rid himself of tenants trying to hold him accountable for squalid conditions?

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Only in Boston!

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Only in Boston would the city fight the landowner for this long. In other cities, you leave shit like this around it gets cleaned up and you get charged for it!

Does this guy think that he's a bank or in Detroit or something?

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Sounds like a really swell

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Sounds like a really swell guy! Maybe he could be forced to live in the property as a sentence for being an arrogant jackass? You know, like a corny Hollywood movie?

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Been done

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In JP ...owner had to live in the same squalid conditions he made his tenant endure.

People should picket outside his private home.

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At what point in time can the

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At what point in time can the city take the property by eminent domain and have it condemned?

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Ten years ago.

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Ten years ago.

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He should be fined

by the Parks Department as well. Boston has a lot of scummy slumlords. My hope is that more of those properties will become owner-occupied again.

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How is a 73 acre lot in

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How is a 73 acre lot in Sudbury only worth $600,000?

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I think it's time to

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make a large rat delivery to Sudbury.

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I'm trying to figure out the point of all this crazy

He could just sell it as is and just get a heap of money for the land and be done with it.

Why is he hanging on to it at all?

I also have to wonder: burned out and abandoned properties were seized from landlords in Boston at the end of the Arson Era. A blighted, burned-out, and effectively abandoned property such as this should be seized and turned over to affordable housing for reuse. Are those laws still on the books? The city should just take it by eminent domain.

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Not For Lack of Trying

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During the Menino era there was a big deal about such properties too, with the Mayor's office trying to pressure those delinquent owners into selling if they wouldn't repair the properties. He even gave a speech in front of one of the properties in question. Years later it stands the same mostly, the only difference being the abandoned cars, parts, and motorcycles on the driverway having been removed.
https://goo.gl/maps/2CxtSHhywGD2

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idk

say what you will but im sure he's earning a fair amount on his do-nothing investment right now

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well obviously

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he's collecting rent from the rats.

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Did you read the post?

This burned down six years ago. A judge already smacked him for that in 2015 (see first comment). He most likely was not insured - insurance companies immediately raze the property. It would not be left like this because of liability if he was actually getting an insurance payout.

And if he actually got an insurance pay out, it must have been a lump sum. See "immediately secure/raze the property", above.

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what was the land worth

with that still decrepit house that would need to be scraped anyway, say 10 years ago

whats it worth now

what is its projected worth in say, 5 years

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If only Boston had some

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If only Boston had some authority to handle redevelopment of blighted properties like this one.

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Location