Casco: Deck off dock must go

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — A Shoreland Zoning Ordinance violation led to a site walk, which led to realizing more neighbors had decks within the 100-foot area of the high-water water.

Some of the residents removed the structures without a notice of violation ever being issued.

Meanwhile, one homeowner claimed there was a permit for the dock that had been illegally built. A 16-by-16 square foot deck had been added to the dock — also against shoreland zoning law.

The Casco Board of Selectmen did not honor the building permit since it was not recorded with the town hall.

Instead, the board will enter into a consent agreement with the property owner. Essentially, the structures will be removed and a revegetation plan will be submitted to the town. No building permits will be issued to the property owner until that part of the consent agreement is met.

“When you live on the waterfront you have to remind yourself, you have a million eyes on you. It is not the town knocking on your door, it is the neighbors,” Selectman Grant Plummer said.

“I’d like to have the state weigh in on the planting plan. Let’s do this the right way. When you live on the waterfront, the 100-foot buffer is something that you really cannot ignore. There are certain things that cannot happen in the 100-foot buffer,” Plummer said.

Earlier in the evening, Casco Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) Alex Sirois explained the situation with Joe Delamare, who owns a lot in the Shoreland Zone.

“He applied for a permit for the dock, which we don’t have a permit for. He had a survey done. I discovered there was a deck near the water attached to the dock, a 16-by-16,” Sirois said. “There appeared to be some vegetation removal and sand and gravel brought in — based on the Portland Water District photos of the shoreline.”

“I expected to see some permitting in there from 2015. I did not see that. The deck near the water as well as bringing in sand would require a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). There was no record of that,” he said.

As told to Sirois, Delamare met with former CEO Don Murphy on site.

“That is definitely a permit signed by Don. It is his handwriting. I checked the permit log. There was none. In fact, the permit number belongs to another permit,” Sirois said.

In response to the situation, Sirois issued a notice of violation for the dock and deck. Additionally, the homeowner was denied a building permit for the house.

“I am looking for some direction whether to go to legal or some other way,” Sirois said to the selectmen.

Chairman Holly Hancock said, “The deck is a violation.”

The landowner said he paid for the permits and assumed he was going by the book. He mentioned other illegal permits issued in town that have been allowed to continue.

“All the other issues were legit permits that have all the backbone, site plans,” Plummer said.

“Yours is a wishy-washy mess. It is nonconforming according to the law. The CEO cannot grant those permits. There is no permit from the town, no permit-by-rule from the state, the cards are stacked against you,” Plummer said. “Without the stuff to go along with that permit, we have to stand our ground here.”

Hancock agreed.

“Certain things need to be removed and remediated,” she said.

Sirois said, “If you maintain that you want the violation resolved, you guys give him some time to remove the deck structure and some sort of revegetation plans. We would be looking to make sure the point system is met, 100 feet to the water and required growth, low-lying shrubs.”

Delamare spoke. “It won’t be an easy task to take down the structure and I cannot plant until spring. Not sure I can give you a time frame. It took three months to build; I don’t know for sure how long it’ll be to take down,” he said.

At that point, Plummer asked if consent agreement would be the best fit.

“I think the suggestion that a consent agreement be drawn up” is a good one, Morton said. “We set up parameters: the removal of the structure and replantings by May 15, and no other permits issued for work until those things are done. That would give him the rest of the fall and winter to come up with replanting plan.”

Town staff and board members explained that they have developed caution when it comes to shoreland zone infractions and promises to resolve those.

“It has been our experience at the board that we need to have proper documentation in place and make sure the work is done. It is not because of you, but because of people in the past that this road is hard,” Plummer said.

Morton echoed that sentiment, saying, “Our experiences in the past, we have been stung by replanting issues.”

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