Piscataquis County opts out of helping Atkinson buy land

Posted Sept. 07, 2010, at 11:11 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:37 a.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The county won’t be helping Atkinson secure the land under its sand and salt pile as town officials had hoped.

The Piscataquis County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday not to proceed any further with the town’s request for the county to co-sign for the purchase of approximately 13 acres.

Atkinson officials had asked for the county’s help because McCrillis Timberland LLC and Prentiss & Carlisle Co. Inc., which co-own the land under the town’s sand and salt pile, offered to sell the property to the town but only if the county also was named on the deed.

That stipulation was made because the landowners are worried about any present or future liability should the town ever deorganize. The town has twice attempted to deorganize without success.

The commissioners agreed earlier to investigate whether a suitable contract could be drafted that would remove any liability from the county, but that appears not to be the case, according to David Gray of Dover-Foxcroft, a county-retained attorney.

Although technically the proposed agreement with the landowners would have absolved the county from any past liability involving that property, Gray said the county would have potential liability going forward, Commissioner Tom Lizotte said. He also said that Atkinson town officials had not done any title work for the purchase and they don’t intend to even though they have had a year to do so.

Commissioner Fred Trask said Tuesday that he had no problem helping the town out but he was unwilling to expose the county to any future liability. He said the commissioners got involved initially because they were told the county would be exempt from any future liability, yet the proposed agreement does not specify that.

No Atkinson town official was present at the meeting.

Commissioner Eric Ward, a merchant mariner, participated in the discussion by telephone from the Persian Gulf.

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