June 25, 2018
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Contractor, DEP square off over Rockland house lot

Stephen Betts | BDN
Stephen Betts | BDN
This lot in Rockland is at the center of a dispute between the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the lot's owner over filling wetlands.
By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — Gregory Boynton said he is just a regular working guy trying to build a home for his son who will be graduating from Maine Maritime Academy in the spring.

But the Maine Department of Environmental Protection said he filled in wetlands on the lot in Rockland without a permit. In addition, the environmental agency claims he filled in a far greater area than he had been advised he could fill if he received a permit.

Boynton and a lawyer for the DEP met for the first time Friday afternoon in Rockland District Court after the state filed a complaint against the Washington man.

The parcel at issue is a 1-acre lot located on Holmes Street in Rockland. The lot has been a controversial piece of property for 30 years, located adjacent to railroad tracks.

In 1984, a Rockland woman had to file an appeal to the zoning board of appeals in an effort to place a mobile home on the lot. At that time, mobile homes only were allowed in trailer parks. The woman ended up not placing the home there even after winning the appeal.

In 1988, a developer proposed building a nine-unit apartment building on the vacant lot but neighbors fought the project through a petition drive, saying it would adversely affect the neighborhood. The project ultimately was dropped, in part, because of the amount of wetlands.

Boynton acquired the lot in March 2006. He told Judge Susan Sparaco Friday that he obtained the land from someone who owed him money for contracting work but couldn’t pay.

“I’m just a working guy trying to dig out of this … hole. I took this land from a guy who didn’t pay me. I wanted to build a house for my son,” he said.

The DEP states in its legal complaint that in June 2011, the agency sent an employee down to the lot at Boynton’s request because he wanted to know where he could build on the lot. According to the DEP, the staffer informed Boynton that he could fill in no more than 4,300 square feet, but he could not do that until he obtained a National Resources Protection Act permit from the department.

In July 2012, the department received a complaint from someone and upon inspection found that Boynton had filled in 9,438-square-feet of the lot — about one fifth of the lot — and had not obtained a permit.

The DEP issued a notice of violation to Boynton later that month.

Boynton said he has received conflicting advice from the state and maintains he has done nothing wrong.

Judge Sparaco asked and the two sides agreed to try mediation before the matter returns to court. Boynton said, however, he has no interest in paying the $3,000 in penalties sought by the DEP.

DEP attorney Laura Welles told the judge that the department is always willing to work out an agreement in cases such as this.

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