A sign directs motorists to Ramsdell Stone and Gravel in York, Maine, where the town is demanding the property's former owner clean up a site reportedly covered in junked cars, scrap metal and other detritus. Credit: Google Streetview

YORK, Maine — Selectmen on Monday night initiated eviction proceedings against Ramsdell Stone and Gravel and owner David Ramsdell for his residence and the gravel pit at 9 and 13 Granite Lane.

Board members made no comment before or after making the motion to begin eviction, which comes almost a year after the town first approached Ramsdell about cleaning up the property – which has been owned by the town since 2015 for back taxes totaling more than $30,000.

According to assessing records, 9 Granite Lane, the gravel pit, is assessed at $438,100; 13 Granite Lane, which includes Ramsdell’s residence, is valued at $304,100.

[Questions surround how much environmental cleanup of gravel pit will cost, and who will pay]

Meanwhile, an environmental assessment of the property has not been completed, six months after the town hired SRW Environmental to perform the work. Town Manager Steve Burns said Tuesday that owner Todd Scheffer needed to wait until the ground was thawed before undertaking the testing, and has been working with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to coordinate the effort.

Burns said the eviction proceeding was spurred by the fact that Ramsdell is still bringing new material onto the property, even after he agreed to clean up the site last summer. Code Enforcement Officer Amber Harrison last year found scrap metal, junk vehicles, construction debris, tires, asphalt and containers of liquid at the gravel pit. Ramsdell not only agreed to an aggressive cleanup schedule, which Burns said was not completed, but also agreed not to bring new material to the site.

[Selectmen threaten to evict gravel pit manager if he doesn’t offer more details about cleanup]

“We asked him to stop, and he hasn’t stopped. The one thing that really gave the final push was seeing other commercial entities coming and going on the property,” said Burns. “So we thought it was time to begin the eviction process.”

While selectmen authorized Burns and town attorney Mary Costigan to proceed, Burns said he met recently with Ramsdell who “asked for a little bit of time” to clean up the site and pay the back taxes. “He still thinks it’s doable,” said Burns. “If he needs of couple of weeks, OK. But if it isn’t comprehensive, we’re not going to stop this.”

Burns said the next step will be to take Ramsdell to court. When that happens, said Burns, Ramsdell can “make an argument for each parcel. For instance, what happens to them if they get kicked out of the house? But we have to proceed down that path.”

[Town to boot gravel pit manager if he doesn’t clean up junked cars, scrap metal]

In other business, selectmen unanimously authorized the York Police Department to move forward with a study of the York River and York Harbor, at a cost of $25,000 to $50,000 to be paid from harbor usage fees. This study is intended to answer a number of questions on river capacity, and was proposed by the Harbor Board after Paul Radochia put forth a citizens’ petition that removes restrictions on dock lengths — Question 4 on Saturday’s ballot. The next step will be to seek requests for proposals, with work slated to begin July 1 and end Sept. 16 — in time to get an ordinance amendment onto the November ballot, if necessary.