Casco tables RV use on shoreland parcel

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — A property owner on Sebago Lake Shores Road expressed his disappointment about a buyer leaving behind the potential real-estate deal — if a year-round recreational vehicle is no longer allowed on the parcel.

Meanwhile, abutters favored discontinuing the current uses on the property, which is considered a non-conforming lot and is located on wetlands.

However, according to Town Attorney Natalie Burns, the town is not in a position to demand the recreational vehicle’s removal because the property owner has written permission from Casco’s former code enforcement officer (CEO).

“By Maine state law, the town cannot take another position,” Burns told the audience at the Casco Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday night.

“The public would like to know why the board would even consider a consent agreement for something not allowed in this town,” she said, “it’s because the former CEO allowed it.”

Burns said the current landowner, Darren Brown, had provided a letter of agreement from the town, and it is legally binding.

“We do have proof. That puts the town in a difficult position to require complete removal of camper and pad,” Burns said.

Recently, the current CEO Don Murphy has been working on a consent agreement to resolve the land use issue, she said. Ultimately, it is up to the board to decide upon an appropriate resolution, she said.

Since last month, Brown has been seeking from the selectmen the approval of a consent agreement that would allow an RV to be parked on the property — an attractive option for potential buyers.

On Tuesday, Chairman Mary-Veinessa Fernandes tabled until January the consideration of any consent agreement.

“I have concerns that this is the tip of the iceberg. There will be other issues like this throughout the town,” Fernandes said.

“We have quite a bit that we will have to review, and on a case-by-case basis,” she said.

“The board might consider reviewing a newly-crafted consent agreement,” she said.

Then, the selectmen voted unanimously to hold off on the consent agreement until Jan. 8.

Brown responded to the issue being postponed.

“I have a buyer who is ready to walk away,” he said.

“I only recently learned that I am in violation. I didn’t do it. I just want to sell it and move on,” Brown said.

He said he was not responsible for any tree removal on the parcel, and that tree removal had been done by the previous owner.

“I did not take any more trees down than were already cut. I took debris off the property. As far as I am concerned, I did nothing but improve the area,” Brown said.

Earlier in the evening, the board went into executive session with the town’s legal counsel. That executive session lasted about half an hour.

After the vote to table the item until a second consent agreement was drafted, Burns said her recommendations to the board included putting limitations on the number of months out of the year that a camper could be parked on the premises. A proposed consent agreement could also address aesthetics, thus requiring the property owner to improve the physical appearances of the parcel, she said.

“Whether or not the former CEO had power to authorize RV use on property, because it is in writing, it is an agreement,” Burns said.

During the meeting, one abutter asked the selectmen to draw the line in the sand and protect the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance.

“There will be more recreational sites that have been there all along. Those people will come up and point at this (an approved consent agreement) as a precedence. This is not a single issue. There will be more,” he said.

Don Trafford, another abutter on Sebago Lake Shore Road, described the parcel being discussed as a “completely wooded lot 10 years ago.”

“In the past 10 years, the lot was completely clear-cut and filled in,” he said.

“If I have a tree in the way on my property, I have to wait for the beavers to cut it,” he said.

“I put in a well, and I did everything by the book. This is a slap in the face for everyone who does it by the book,” Trafford said.

 

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