ROCKLAND, Maine — The town of St. George and a couple who run a kennel reached an agreement Monday afternoon in Knox County Superior Court to deal with numerous complaints from a neighbor about barking canines.
Under the agreement, the town will waive fines and not seek reimbursement of its legal fees if Lisa and Andrew Gerakaris, owners of Sparta Kennels, agree to board no more than six dogs by Nov. 15.
Andrew Gerakaris said after Monday’s court hearing that even though he agreed to the settlement, he was not happy with the outcome.
“I felt like I was being blackmailed,” he said, adding that if the couple had contested and lost in court they would have had to pay thousands of dollars to the town.
The couple started Sparta Kennels on Balsam Lane about four years ago. Andrew Gerakaris said the couple had a state license to house as many as 20 dogs but that the town also needed to approve the license. Falla said the town never approved the license because of the noise complaints.
Part of the agreement calls for the town to approve a temporary license through Nov. 15.
Town Manager John Falla said residents enacted a barking dog ordinance two years ago, largely because of complaints about barking dogs at the kennel.
However, according to the couple, their closest neighbors, including one 100 feet away, never complained. A person who lives a few hundred yards away lodged all but one of the complaints, Andrew Gerakaris said.
Town attorney Michael Hodgins of Augusta told Justice Jeffrey Hjelm in Knox County Superior Court on Monday that the town agreed to forgo $750 in fines from 15 alleged violations of the town’s barking dog ordinance and will not seek restitution of $4,000 in town legal fees if there are six or fewer dogs by Nov. 15 at the kennel.
Hjelm will sign the agreement once it is presented to him in writing by the town’s attorney.
The couple represented themselves at the Monday hearing. Falla and assistant manager Tim Polky were also in attendance.