Casco turns junkyard violation over to attorney

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer
CASCO — The Town of Casco has put into the hands of its attorney the task of officially notifying a resident of a junkyard ordinance violation that — if not corrected in two weeks — could land in the Bridgton courtroom.
The Casco Board of Selectmen heard the circumstances: A resident living about 300 feet from Sebago Lake has surrounded his home with unregistered, junked vehicles and boats. It is apparent the motor fluids, oils and gasoline have not been drained from the automobiles. The pile of vehicles has started to encroach onto the property lines of abutters who have complained to the town.
The Town of Casco junkyard ordinance states a person cannot have more than three unregistered vehicles on their residential property. Some exceptions to the ordinance are made for people with classic car or mechanical hobbies.
The selectmen were told that the person breaking the junkyard law had not contacted the town with a solution despite several letters.
So, the next step would be to have legal counsel — along with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office — hand deliver the official letter of violation, requesting the resident resolve the matter by removing the vehicles from his yard.
If the property owner does not resolve the matter with the law office of Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry, then the matter will be heard in court.
Tuesday night, the board agreed unanimously to go forward with a plan to engage the town attorney and also to allocate money toward any legal fees should the case go to court.
Prior to the vote, the selectmen were less than thrilled about spending money, especially in the court system; and some were verbal than others about the allocation of funds in that direction. Bottom line: Paying for the legal services was an inevitable part of a possible solution.
Plus, it was advised that if the town was going to ask for the ordinance violation to be resolved one more time, the threat of a lawsuit needed to be backed up by a budget.
Casco Town Manager Dave Morton said “The costs associated with junk yard violations — the estimated cost is between $6,000 and $7,000 in the Bridgton Court.”
“The town has opportunities for recovering those fees. If the town goes to court and a person agrees to do cleanup, attorneys have been good about returning (some of) those fees to towns.”
“Towns never get 100 percent,” Morton said, advising the selectmen that there is no promise of all legal costs being recouped.
This is what would happen if the South Casco resident does not agree to remove the junked vehicles. The town or someone contracted by the town, through the order of a judge, would be allowed on the property for the sole purpose of removing the vehicles.
“It will go through the tax lien process for collection,” of costs incurred to the town, Morton said.
“There is a mechanism in place for recovering fees. I cannot sit here and tell the board they will recover all of the fees,” he said.
Morton said that with the cost of scrap metal these days, it would be possible for the homeowner to actually make money — rather than spend it — to have the vehicles hauled away.
There are about 15 cars and some unregistered boats on about one-quarter acre of land, according to Morton and the Casco code enforcement officer.
“To get rid of vehicles someone would come in and do it for free. The scrap metal would be a positive pay-off. It might be enough cash to build a fence around his yard — if he wanted,” Morton said.

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