DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Piscataquis County officials have no authority to remove a gate recently erected by Roxanne Quimby across the Wilson Stream Pond Road because it involves privately owned land, the Piscataquis County commissioners ruled Tuesday.
Seventeen Elliotsville Township residents petitioned the commissioners to remove the gate, which is in the vicinity of a popular camping area residents have used for generations. They also indicated that Quimby is not the only private landowner beyond the gate.
Quimby recently purchased the Elliotsville property as part of her plan to donate about 70,000 acres she owns near Baxter State Park to the federal government in conjunction with the National Park Service’s 100th birthday in August 2016. She plans to set aside an additional 30,000 acres she owns for recreation and sustainable forestry.
Tom Lizotte, the commission chairman, said Tuesday that according to research, the only roads the county has jurisdiction over in Elliotsville are the Main Road through the village area, the Onawa Road and the Drew Valley Road. He said Elliotsville, which was previously a plantation, deorganized in 1983.
Local residents think that because they have used the road over the years, it is a public domain even though records indicate it is not, Lizotte said.
Neither the petition signers nor Quimby attended Tuesday’s meeting.
County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte said she had contacted Quimby’s representative, who noted that there are two other landowners beyond the gate and they have the combination to the gate to access their land.
“The county commissioners have absolutely no jurisdiction over private land. We can’t tell anyone to remove a gate from a road or right-of-way that is not maintained by the county, so I don’t think it’s legally possible for us to act on this,” Lizotte said before the commissioners tabled the matter. “If residents have an issue with Roxanne Quimby, they should get themselves an attorney and deal with it through the courts.”
Correction: In a previous version of this story, Elliotsville Township was misspelled as Elliottsville Township.