June 22, 2018
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Neighbors suing town over an unpermitted house, again

By Abigail Curtis and Heather Steeves, BDN Staff

APPLETON, Maine — A judge already revoked a man’s building permit for a home he built on a 0.18-acre piece of land, but his neighbors are bringing the case back to court again. The town offered the landowner, Jacob Boyington, a variance and another chance to apply for a building permit. Now the neighbors are suing the town.

The dispute began in 2009 over the construction of the new building on Boyington’s nonconforming parcel of land. The parcel originally had been home to a decrepit trailer, and when it was foreclosed upon and sold at auction for $4,100, Boyington knocked it down and began building a house there.

Neighbors Patrick and Lorie Costigan and Paul and Rita Gagnon said they believed the parcel was too small for such a use and appealed the building permit that Boyington had received from Appleton Code Enforcement Officer Bob Temple. The town’s board of appeals consulted with the Maine Municipal Association and town attorney before determining that it did not have the authority to decide the neighbors’ appeal. So the court decided.

Knox County Superior Court handed down a ruling Feb. 9 that determined the code enforcement officer had erred in issuing the permit to allow construction of the building. At that time, the town told Boyington he’d have to modify, tear down or seek a permit for the house to get it into compliance with town ordinances.

Since then, the town has allowed Boyington to reapply for a permit, apparently without him having to modify the two-bedroom home and garage. “The permit has not been granted as of this date,” stated the lawsuit, filed by the Gagnons and the Costigans on Wednesday, Dec. 28.

The Gagnons and the Costigans again have asked the Knox County Superior Court to bring the permitting process back to the town’s board of appeals, this time “with appropriate instructions,” and grant them attorney’s fees and any other relief that seems appropriate.

The town has 40 days to answer the neighbors’ complaint.

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