An Edgecomb property owner in violation of the town’s land use ordinances will again be brought to court by the town, this time for noncompliance with a 2013 court order.
Acting on advice from town attorney Bill Dale, the Edgecomb Board of Selectmen voted March 14 to take property owner Timothy Stephenson back to court for allegedly failing to clear an assortment of unregistered automobiles, machinery, equipment, and other items from his Gleason Road property.
According to a 2013 consent order, Stephenson established a junkyard/automobile graveyard on his Gleason Road lot without a permit.
Selectman Mike Smith, an abutter to the property and one of the residents who brought the unpermitted junkyard to the attention of the town, disclosed his involvement in the situation at the meeting.
Chair Jack Sarmanian felt Smith would be able to make an impartial decision and Smith participated in the vote to take Stephenson back to court for failing to comply with the court order.
Returning to court is the best option the town has for ensuring the property is cleared, Dale said.
The consent order was entered into almost three years ago by both Edgecomb and Stephenson in an effort to resolve the violations on the property.
According to the consent order, Stephenson was levied a fine of $25,000 with the option to have $20,000 forgiven if certain obligations were met in keeping with the time frame of the order.
While Stephenson completed portions of the consent order’s requirements, such as installing a gate and cleaning the lower field of the property, other issues have not been addressed, according to Dale.
The consent decree required Stephenson to obtain a mineral/mining extraction permit and wood processing permit from the Edgecomb Planning Board. There is disagreement between the town and Stephenson as to whether plans he brought before the planning board were in keeping with the consent order.
The applications Stephenson presented to the planning board, through his former representative, attorney Eliot Field, were deemed incomplete and no permit was issued. According to Dale, the matter was stymied by the Maine Department of Transportation, which denied Stephenson’s application for a highway entrance permit to Gleason Road, a requirement for planning board approval.
The DOT ruled the road entrance was not safe for the commercial vehicles required for a wood processing or mineral extraction operation, and there is no indication the department will change its decision, Dale said.
About a year ago, Dale wrote a letter to Field requesting an update on the situation. Field has since retired from practicing law.
“My sense is if you want something more done, you need to go back to court,” Dale said. Stephenson will most likely be required to cover the attorney fees, he said.
Sarmanian and Smith voted in favor of returning to court in an effort to have Stephenson clear the property. Selectman Jessica Chubbuck was absent.
“It should be cleaned up to the nth degree,” Sarmanian said. “The place is a mess. It’s very disruptive to the neighbors.”
Efforts to reach Stephenson by press time were unsuccessful.
In other business, Edgecomb Code Enforcement Officer Stan Waltz will be looking into alleged land use violations in Edgecomb on Old County Road. According to Smith, residents have complained about a couple of properties on the road where a number of unregistered vehicles are stored.
According to Maine law, properties with more than two unregistered vehicles must obtain a junkyard permit.