DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Environmentalist Roxanne Quimby’s gate on Wilson Stream Pond Road in Elliotsville Township has been vandalized, the Piscataquis County commissioners were told Tuesday morning.
“I think we had an incident,” said Clowes Brown of Elliotsville Township, who attended the commissioners’ meeting to see if the gate could be taken down. “I could see just one post. I don’t know if someone had torn [the gate] down.”
Roy McSorley, a neighbor of the property, confirmed later Tuesday that someone had “yanked out” the gate.
The Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office and the Maine State Police said they had no reports of the vandalism.
Quimby was not pleased that someone had vandalized her gate, Monica Castellanos, Quimby’s spokesman, said Tuesday afternoon.
Regarding the gate, Commissioner Thomas Lizotte reaffirmed what he said at the last meeting — that the county has no jurisdiction over the road it is on.
After Elliotsville was deorganized in 1983, Wilson Stream Pond Road, which also has been known as Wilson Road, Little Wilson Road and Campground Road, never was maintained by the county.
“There’s no disputing that this used to be a county road because the historical records say it is,” said Lizotte. “But there are former public roads that are no longer public roads.”
Lizotte said a study was done a few years ago to determine which roads the county was responsible for “because we got multiple complaints from other people from other townships saying, ‘This used to be a county road. They’re no longer maintaining it. What’s the story?’
“We don’t have any information at all that says the Piscataquis County government has ever maintained the Wilson Road,” said Lizotte.
Brown said there are four people who have property on Wilson Road, including a man who owns 14.5 acres of property who never was notified about the installation of a gate.
“This land has been their land a lot longer than any of the other people who own land [on the road],” said Brown, adding that the person’s family had owned a property there since the early 1900s.
“If a private landowner now can no longer access their property because Roxanne Quimby had put up a gate, we sympathize with them,” said Lizotte. “But it’s up to that particular land owner to get their own legal counsel to find a remedy for the situation. It’s not the role of government to insinuate ourselves in a dispute over property rights.”
Castellanos said Quimby’s policy is that any landowner who has legal access gets a key and that is what occurred regarding the Elliotsville property.
Brown and McSorley asked if the road was a legal right of way.
“The road is located in Piscataquis County. You’re a Piscataquis County commissioner. Why can’t you declare that’s a legal right of way?” asked Brown.
“We can’t do that,” said Lizotte. “There’s no evidence that it is a legal right. We have not maintained that road since Elliotsville deorganized in 1983. If we continued to maintain it, yeah, I’d say we have a responsibility to maintain it. But we haven’t done that in 28 years. There’s no evidence that we’ve spent a penny on that road.
“It comes down to someone needing to make a legal case that that road is a public right of way and I’ve seen no evidence of that,” said Lizotte. “We’re the wrong forum to resolve that problem.”
Brown doubted that locals could afford an attorney to figure out the issue.
Diana Bowley contributed to this report.