ROCKLAND, Maine — The 25-foot pile of dirt next to the Littlefield Memorial Baptist Church on Waldo Avenue has to be removed by the middle of January, according to the city’s code officer.

City Attorney Kevin Beal said Code Officer John Root on Dec. 16 gave the church a month to come in with a plan to remove the pile by Jan. 17.

“He also asked that the whole pile be removed,” Beal said.

The pile of dirt issue goes back several years, and originated from preservation work the church did with the city’s assistance in 1999, Beal said.

“They were concerned about the erosion of the shorefront of the baseball field area. They were losing 6 or 7 feet a year,” he said.

The plan was to shave off, reduce and then riprap the slope.

There was also work the church and city wanted to do in the gully area that separates the two church properties to abate erosion there.

The city, through permitting and engineering, paid for phase one of the work on the slope in 1999, he said.

“The work on the slope generated the pile of soil,” Beal said.

The church was to save that material, hoping that in phase two it would fill in the gully between the properties and unify the parcels. That was included in the permit.

Later on, the project was downsized because the church was not able to meet its obligation, he said.

In the reduced work that was done earlier this year, little was done to reduce the pile, although a pile of stones on the property was removed and used in the gully project.

A city ordinance makes the pile a violation, Beal said.

Root also told the church it could appeal his ruling to the zoning board of appeals.

Beal said the church’s attorney, Frederick Newcomb III, maintains the pile is the city’s responsibility.