MILLINOCKET, Maine — A year-old dispute between neighbors over an outdoor wood boiler has culminated with a restraining order on the boiler’s owner, officials said Friday.
John McLaughlin of Somerset Street accepted and District Court Judge Kevin Stitham approved the order barring McLaughlin from having any direct or indirect contact with Carlene George-Adams; from harassing, threatening or otherwise abusing George-Adams; and from going upon her property, according to an order signed Wednesday.
McLaughlin also had sought a restraining order against George-Adams, but that was withdrawn, according to George-Adams’ attorney, Michael Harman of Millinocket.
When a call was made to McLaughlin’s home Friday, his wife said he wasn’t there and she would not comment on the dispute.
According to George-Adams’ petition for a restraining order, the dispute began in 2007 when she complained to town officials of the smoke emitting from McLaughlin’s wood boiler.
McLaughlin was served the town’s first outdoor boiler violation notice in May 2007, but has not been cited for any violations since.
But George-Adams said in her petition that her complaint to town officials led to an intermittent campaign of harassment by McLaughlin against her. In the document, she alleges screaming confrontations involving foul language; snow shoveled onto her walkway and driveway; trash burned in barrels and pits to upset her; false and derogatory comments posted about her on local Web sites under a pseudonym or nickname; and pets being squirted with water from hoses.
“She has suffered a good deal of difficulty because of this,” Harman said Friday.
George-Adams kept a five-page, single-spaced diary on her computer, which she claims is a record of the bad behavior. Boundary disputes also occurred.
At one point, George-Adams took pictures of McLaughlin in which she said he was shoveling snow into her driveway. Those pictures would have been used had McLaughlin taken the civil court case to trial, Harman said.
Under the town’s wood boiler ordinance, which went into effect Nov. 26, 2006, all outdoor wood-fired boilers can operate from Oct. 15 to April 15. They also must be at least 50 feet from a neighboring home, be rated to burn no more than 27.4 grams of particulate matter per 100,000 Btu per hour, and be at least 24 inches above the roof line of the closest neighboring home.
McLaughlin has told town officials that he uses the boiler to heat his home. His use of the boiler this winter is properly permitted, and no recent complaints have been made against it, said Michael Noble, the town’s zoning enforcement officer.
Harman said that Millinocket police have been notified and been investigating the harassment complaints against McLaughlin. No charges have been filed.