Chesuncook road altered for landowners’ sake

Posted Oct. 07, 2009, at 7:04 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:11 p.m.

CHESUNCOOK, Maine — The Piscataquis County commissioners did their part this week to help soothe relations in this remote community about 50 miles north of Greenville.

For the past few years, the location of a portion of Main Street in the Unorganized Territory has been a contentious issue that created a feud among neighbors, prompted a lawsuit and caused at least one incident in which police had to respond.

“We’ve been dealing with this for five years, so I would be very happy if it was in my rearview mirror today,” Commissioner Tom Lizotte said Tuesday.

As part of a settlement, the commissioners agreed to move a portion of the road this fall to a location accepted by the parties involved in the lawsuit. The new location uses part of the new road approved late last year by the county commissioners and a short stretch of state-owned land.

Bruce Bailey, who filed a lawsuit over the road dispute, David Surprenant, owner of the Chesuncook Lake House, and the Department of Conservation all signed waivers to allow the road relocation, Erik Stumpfel, an attorney for the county, advised the commissioners Tuesday. Stumpfel said he also had requested a waiver of notice from the Department of Transportation but has not yet received it. He suggested the commissioners could proceed without the latter waiver. Because the landowners are known and have signed waivers, the county does not have to hold a public hearing before the work is done.

Although the settlement was reached earlier, Stumpfel said the county had to wait until the Legislature approved a bill to allow the Department of Conservation to sign off on its interests before it could be implemented. That bill was approved but didn’t take effect until last month, he said.

The road dispute first surfaced when Surprenant, the former road agent in the Unorganized Territory, discovered that one of three housekeeping cabins he had constructed violated state regulations because it was within 75 feet of the county road. Researching his deed later, Surprenant found an error in the location of the road that negated the violation.

Based on Surprenant’s findings and a survey they commissioned, the county commissioners in 2005 authorized him to move about 20 feet of the road from his land to the north. That move upset other property owners, who said Main Street had been in the same location for more than 50 years and should not have been moved.

The disagreement over the location prompted seasonal resident Bailey to file a civil lawsuit in 2006 against the commissioners and Surprenant because he claimed the road cut through his property.

The agreement allows Surprenant the 75-foot setback he needs and will provide a release deed to Bailey for the portion of the original deeded right of way used by the Bailey family to reach their camp, according to Stumpfel.

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