Zoning violation gets couple $5000 fine

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

A couple who built a 10-foot by 12-foot deck on their new home, on Highland Lake in Bridgton, have agreed to remove it and will pay a $5,000 fine for having violated the Town of Bridgton Shoreland Zoning Ordinance.

Bridgton Code Enforcement Officer Rob Baker told selectmen here last week that Thomas J. and Kimberly M. Buonopane and town officials have been cooperating with each other in an attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement for the violation at the property the couple owns at 86 Highland Road. Baker said he and Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz negotiated the consent agreement with the Buonopanes and their attorney on behalf of the town.

The selectmen unanimously agreed to accept the consent agreement at their June 28 meeting.

The town’s Shoreland Zoning Ordinance authorizes municipal officers to enter into an administrative consent agreement for the purpose of eliminating violations of the ordinance and recovering fines without court action.

Under the terms of the consent agreement Buonopanes have agreed:

• to remove the 10-foot by 12-foot deck at the southwest corner of the structure within 90 days of the signed agreement;
• that a walkway no larger than four feet wide leading from the screened porch to the lower deck will be allowed, however it must comply with the 2009 International Code;
• that the area below the removed deck shall be re-vegetated with native plants and have soil stabilization during the growing period;
• that there shall be no further expansion of the structure on the south and southwesterly side;
• to voluntarily pay a $5,000 fine by official bank check, payable to the Town of Bridgton, by 4 p.m. on July 5, 2011.

In return, the Town agrees to relinquish its right to prosecute the land owner/property owner for violating the ordinance in consideration of the land owner’s/property owner’s promise to pay a fine; except that, if the landowner breaches the terms of the agreement by failing to pay the fine, or if the land owner/property owner fails to remediate the impacted area by the agreed deadline or expands this violation or creates another violation, the Town then may institute appropriate court proceedings to enforce the provisions of the ordinance, without refund of the $5,000 fine and the land owner/property owner shall be liable and reimburse the Town for all expenses incurred by the Town from the date of action against the violation.

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