Board fines couple for setback violation

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Bridgton Selectmen signed a consent agreement Dec. 22 that will allow Malcolm Road residents to retain the deck they built four feet too close to Highland Lake.

In return, property owners Edward and Margaret Balestra of 66 Malcolm Road will pay a $1,000 fine.

Code Enforcement Officer Robbie Baker said the home is scheduled to be sold in January and the consent agreement will allow the Balestras to clear up the violation to the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance before the sale goes through.

Town Manager Bob Peabody said there is precedent for the board’s decision, in that other owners have been allowed to retain the structures they’ve built in cases where the degree of violation was minor. Selectman Greg Watkins was concerned that subsequent violators could ask for the same treatment, to “do it now and ask for forgiveness later.”

“I don’t think four feet is an egregious violation,” Chairman Bernie King said, agreeing with Peabody. Baker said he hasn’t seen other violators try to use previous agreements to argue for leniency.

“It could happen, but most people are pretty good about it,” Baker said.

King said precedent doesn’t much figure in when selectmen decide on how to deal with Shoreland Zoning violations.

“We deal with them on a case-by-case basis,” King said.

The vote was 3-1, with Watkins opposed and Selectman Paul Hoyt absent.

In other action, the board approved a five-year lease-purchase agreement for two public works trucks totaling $175,322 at an interest rate of 3.48%. Peabody termed the vote as “pro-forma,” as voters had already approved the spending at Town Meeting as part of capital improvement spending. But he added that the town’s bond counsel had recommended selectmen take one more vote, just to be on the safe side.

It was also reported that the Land Use Management Plan for the town’s major arteries would be ready for public inspection and feedback by March. Land Use Committee member Chuck Renneker said members intend to hold neighborhood meetings at that time and also have guest articles about the new zoning rules printed in The Bridgton News.

The next meeting of the Land Use Committee will be Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 8 a.m. The committee meets every two weeks in the downstairs meeting room at the Municipal Complex.

In other meeting news, Wastewater Committee Chairman Glen “Bear” Zaidman announced that sewer users will be personally invited to attend the committee’s next meeting on Thursday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m. in the Municipal Complex downstairs room to look over new information on the proposed equivalent user system for assigning fees.

Dale McDaniel, owner of Portland Street Auto, asked selectmen to consider using his local business and other local mechanics when repairs are needed on town vehicles. Public Works Director Jim Kidder said repairs are typically done through Craig’s Auto in Harrison.

“I’ve been in business many years, and I’ve never been asked to write an estimate,” McDaniel said. “I ask that we be given the opportunity.”

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