Greenbush pursuing blighted lots

Posted June 29, 2010, at 10:06 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:31 a.m.

GREENBUSH, Maine — Two Military Road residents could be fined as much as $2,500 a day each for failing to clean properties that town leaders consider to be unlicensed and filthy junkyards, officials said Tuesday.

Cut-up culverts, car parts, mattresses, excessive numbers of propane bottles, tires, junked vehicles — including a torn-apart camper — and mounds of trash are among what Town Manager Rob Littlefield wants cleared from the small residential lots of Gladys Turner and Richard Ferrill of 190 and 198 Military Road, respectively.

“We are just getting too many complaints right now and they [Turner and Ferrill] are hoarding more materials and waste,” Littlefield said Tuesday. “Instead of getting rid of them, they are going in the wrong direction.”

The residents, who have unlisted telephone numbers or lack telephones, could not be reached for comment.

Town Code Enforcement Officer Jerry Davis has tried for three years to get a consent agreement to have Ferrill clear his property and has tried for a year to get one for Turner, he said.

The residents received letters almost two months ago informing them that they had 15 days to create a plan of correction for clearing their properties. On Friday, town officials mailed them letters saying the town would seek civil court remedies in Lincoln District Court, Davis said.

Turner and Ferrill did not respond to the letters and have ignored several verbal warnings, Davis said.

“She just cusses me. They have been very uncooperative. I have been more than patient, more patient than I would have been otherwise,” Davis said. “The town has had enough, and I have had enough.”

With a population of 1,411 as of the last census, Greenbush is a town between Howland and Milford along U.S. Route 2 in Penobscot County.

Both properties are a few hundred yards from a school, a small convenience store, a church and the town office, Davis said.

Davis said he tries to be gentle with homeowners, preferring to work with them to clean properties. Two or three other town property owners have cleaned properties without forcing court action, he said.

“This will be one of many cases that could be going to court if consent agreements aren’t reached,” he said.

Under state law, violators could face fines of $100 to $2,500 a day on receipt of initial letters advising them of violations if they fail to clear illegal junkyards or devise a plan within 15 days.

Davis doubted that the town would seek the daily fines from Turner and Ferrill, but said town officials would look to hire contractors to clean the properties and bill the residents for the cleanup, by court order or liens.

A code enforcement officer for Lincoln, Davis is experienced at enforcing anti-blight ordinances. A Lincoln case cost one resident $17,000. Another resident had to sell 5.8 acres on Transalpine Road as part of attempts to settle $50,100 in fines and $3,301 in attorneys’ fees, plus interest, for his violations. Both Lincoln cases occurred in 2007.

Anyone interested in reporting a blighted property in Greenbush is asked to call 826-2050.

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