Signed consent agreement sparks disagreement

IMMEDIATELY AFTER CONSTRUCTION, this snapshot shows that vegetation within 100 feet of the Shoreland Zone was removed. The property owners were required to replant shrubbery and ground vegetation to compensate for this Shoreland Zone violation. No trees were removed from the property. However, the limbs on one evergreen were overpruned by nine feet. This Shoreland Zoning infraction was also remedied through replanting. (Photo courtesy of DEP)

IMMEDIATELY AFTER CONSTRUCTION, this snapshot shows that vegetation within 100 feet of the Shoreland Zone was removed. The property owners were required to replant shrubbery and ground vegetation to compensate for this Shoreland Zone violation. No trees were removed from the property. However, the limbs on one evergreen were overpruned by nine feet. This Shoreland Zoning infraction was also remedied through replanting. (Photo courtesy of DEP)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Abutting neighbors to the property owners who have already signed a consent agreement with the Town of Naples came before the selectmen, asking for a reconsideration of what was referred to as “harsh” and “overly punitive” requests within the consent agreement.

According to those neighbors who testified during a 30-minute period, the message was the same to the Naples Board of Selectmen: Please reconsider some portions of the lengthy consent agreement.

“We are very disappointed and quite upset on the decision to demand for the Slattery’s (Tim and Kerrie) to remove their porch and ruin the roof lines of their beautiful house. This porch is a small area of a few hundred square feet of open space on a one-acre piece of property,” neighbor Marty Zartarian said.

During the public participation period of the selectmen’s meeting, Zartarian provided a PowerPoint presentation with photographs and maps of the property. He cited an estimate of $80,000 that had been quoted by an unknown contractor for removing the deck, which would require reconstruction on that side of the home.

“We just do not understand what you are thinking or where you are coming from,” he said.

Likewise, other abutters who testified said they did not understand the logic behind parts of the consent agreement. Four of the neighbors asked selectmen to let the deck stay. Removing the deck has no benefit to the lake, they said.

“We urgently request for you to reconsider the town’s position,” Zartarian said.

The board did agree to meet on the matter as soon as this Monday; therefore, an extra meeting was added to the regular bi-monthly meetings to accommodate the matter as well as other items that will be on the agenda.

Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak said when the Slattery’s consent agreement is reviewed again by the selectmen, most likely some of the discussion with the town attorney will be in executive session and some of the discussion will be in open session.

Two homeowners on Long Lake, Tim and Kerrie Slattery, appeared before the selectmen during a July 13 meeting. The couple was not present at Monday’s meeting.

The consent agreement was signed by the Slattery’s in late July, according to Paraschak.

In 2012, the Slattery’s were first given a notice of violation when it was discovered that some trees had been over-pruned and some vegetation had been removed. No trees had been cut on the property; instead, a larger percentage of limbs had been pruned than what is allowable by the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance.

At the time — as pointed out during the July 13 meeting, the Department of Environmental Protection land use bureau as well as the Naples code enforcement department came across other ordinance violations.

The removal of ground vegetation and the bringing in of fill without a permit were added to the list. Other violations included a hot tub less than 100 feet away from the high-water mark as well as a heated outdoor shower that is not allowable by the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance, according to Naples Code Enforcement Officer Renee Carter. Those infractions were remedied, she said.

For a period of more than a year, the lawyer for the Slattery’s and the law firm for the town worked together to draft a consent agreement.

On July 13, the Slattery’s asked to forego the financial burden and anti-aesthetic measure of removing a deck that is in violation of the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance.

They offered to do something in lieu of removing the deck such as planting more shrubbery or utilizing other methods to mitigate water runoff into the lake.

That evening, on July 13, the board of selectmen went into executive session to consult with Daggett. When the board reconvened, it voted to keep the consent agreement status quo.

According to Chairman Bob Caron II, there were multiple infractions — not just the deck that extended beyond the 100-foot “boundary” from the waterline.

Additionally, the town and the Slattery’s had already negotiated to arrive at the current consent agreement, he said.

On Monday, the neighbors of the Slattery’s echoed the request for the deck to remain intact.

“The town is demanding an action of $80,000 to compromise a beautiful house stemming from what is a minor discrepancy between a prior CEO and a builder who has gone AWOL, and who is not being held at least partially accountable,” Zartarian said.

“This just is not fair. This punishment does not fit the crime,” he said.

“This is a lose/lose direction for all of us,” he said

Abiding by the terms of the consent agreement, the Slattery’s would have to spend thousands of dollars to “devalue their property. This will inevitably lower their property tax resulting in lost tax revenue for our town,” he said.

“The Consent Agreement lists in detail all of the measures that need to be corrected. Some are quite petty and would be part of a normal punch list that a builder must complete to get an occupancy permit,” he said.

“This level of detail in the consent agreement does cloud the issue of the excessive and punitive measure being taken. And, many of these items have already been addressed,” Zartarian said.

“No trees were cut down to improve their view.  My understanding is that two trees were overpruned by nine feet but Tim and Kerrie did not specifically authorize this work,” he said.

“As for the vegetation planting, which the Slattery’s have agreed to in good faith, this plan is way beyond what we feel is a reasonable compromise,” Zartarian said.

He questioned why the town did not hold the contractor or the tree-removal service responsible for the Shoreland Zoning infractions, as has happened in the Town of Raymond.

According to Carter, the town “contacted the tree-removal people, and they responded by planting trees.”

However, the contractor, which went out of business, was not placed under notice of violation by the law firm handling the case, Carter said.

“Ultimately, the homeowner is always the one that is responsible,” Carter said.

The abutting neighbors said the Slattery’s have acted responsibly, trying to remedy the violations on their Long Lake property.

On Tuesday, Zartarian said this string of events did not bring together an already tight community of neighbors closely, but the consent agreement has caused some to rally for the Slattery’s.

“When something is truly wrong, it is your duty as a citizen to speak out about it. That is what democracy is about,” Zartarian said.

Please follow and like us: