PALMYRA, Maine — The town of Palmyra and an 81-year-old resident have signed an agreement to bring an end to a battle over the resident’s porch, said Selectman Michael Cray.
“It looks like we’re going to be able to do something with bringing him back into compliance and without fines,” said Cray on Wednesday.
Raymond Phelps’ house on Oxbow Road, where he has lived since 1962, was found to have a porch on the side that was out of compliance with the town ordinance. Cray said Phelps had built his porch beyond what his building permit allowed.
The town had been battling to bring Phelps into compliance for more than a year before an attorney was hired.
The porch was supposed to be taken down last May, according to planning board Chairman Gary Beem.
“Then it went a couple more months and he didn’t do it. Then a lawyer started the paperwork because he didn’t comply,” Beem said in January.
The town and Phelps met in Skowhegan District Court in January, where Judge Peter Darvin urged Phelps to work with the town in order to avoid serious financial penalties.
Phelps signed paperwork with the town Tuesday agreeing to take the roof off his porch, essentially reverting it to the deck originally allowed by the building permit, said Cray.
“That’s what he had a permit for right from the get-go,” said Cray. “He just built beyond the scope of his permit. He agreed to come back into compliance.”
The agreement must have a judge’s approval.
If Phelps comes back into compliance by June 1, he won’t face any fines, said Cray.
Phelps said he signed the paperwork but he still wasn’t happy with the agreement.
“To me, a deck is like a porch,” said Phelps. “[The porch will be] all open. I have no use in having it if there’s no roof over it.”
Phelps said he signed the agreement because of the potential fines associated with not bringing the porch into compliance.
“That’s the main thing right there — the fines. I can’t afford no fines,” said Phelps. “If they fine me, I’ll be out on the road. I won’t have no place to live.”
The town and Phelps will meet with a judge on March 19 at Skowhegan District Court.