Chase pays clearcut fine

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

NAPLES – As was agreed upon during a settlement in December, businessman John Chase paid the $65,000 fine to the Town of Naples.

Stemming from a shoreland zoning ordinance violation on Long Lake in Spring 2010, the property owner and the town opted to settle through mediation, rather than going to court — that mediation occurred in mid-December 2010.

The $65,000 fine – which was paid in one lump sum — includes a reimbursement of the town’s legal fees, according to Town Manager Derik Goodine.

The town racked up $25,000 in legal services while fighting to uphold the town’s shoreland zoning ordinance.

Earlier in the year, Goodine had reported to the Naples Board of Selectmen that Chase wasn’t on the same page with the town when it came to the settlement – and the respective lawyers were meeting again.

On Monday, he clarified that he did not mean Chase was refusing to pay the fine. The money part of the settlement was clear to both parties, Goodine said.

Instead, “The lawyers had not ironed out the battle plan,” he said.

“We have always had an agreement. They interpreted the agreement differently and the judge made it clear,” Goodine said.

“It’s been pretty much neutral since mediation. It’s been cordial, and not combative,” he said.

“John Chase said he wants to make sure it’s cleaned up and reforestation takes place,” Goodine added.

In addition to the fine, Chase’s Long Lake property has a 10-year lien on it. This allows a decade to complete the restoration before he can benefit financially by selling the waterfront parcel. The only real estate sale or transfer that could take place is to family members.

Goodine said a site walk will take place before summer, and the details will be fine-tuned according to the agreement, and which erosion-control landscaping techniques are doable. During mediation, it was clear the town wanted bigger trees planted immediately, and more evergreens scattered throughout the property, he said.

Less than an acre had been clear-cut to the beach in Spring 2010.

On Monday, after Goodine reported the payment of the fine to selectmen, he talked about responding to comments that town officials hadn’t been tough enough or the process had taken too long.

“You’ve seen my emails addressing that,” he said.

Selectmen Christine Powers said the idea the town dragged their feet was almost too ludicrous to respond to.

“We don’t have to defend ourselves,” she said.

“We’ve been working on it from Day One,” Powers said.

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