Originally published in The Weekly Packet, July 19, 2012
Sedgwick selectmen confronted with questions about former camp buildings on Walker Pond
by Jonathan Thomas
The Town of Sedgwick continues to reverberate over a saga that began in October 2007 when members of the Patten family applied to the planning board and the code enforcement officer for permits to allow repair, renovation and expansion of four buildings in the former Camp Four Winds on Walker Pond. The legality of recent work done since most of those permits were denied was a topic at the July 10 planning board meeting and the July 12 selectmen’s meeting.
As previously reported, (see March 15, 2012 issue of The Weekly Packet) work was done on the bunkhouses over the winter that members of the planning and appeals boards and the code enforcement officer believe to be in violation of the their decisions and the court order which supported them.
Although permits for some of the work were issued following receipt of the applications, permits for major work on two former waterfront bunkhouses, known as Twister and Squall, were denied by the planning board and code enforcement officer. The denials were upheld by the Sedgwick Board of Appeals after a series of lengthy meetings in March 2009.
In August 2009, the property owners, under the name The Maine Trust, Lee W. Patten, Trustee, filed suit in Superior Court seeking to reverse the appeals board’s decision to deny a permit.
In a decision dated February 2010, Justice Stephen Cuddy upheld the Sedgwick Board of Appeals in its denial of permits for repair, renovation or expansion of the structures. (See February 11, 2010 issue of The Weekly Packet.)
At the July 12 selectmen’s meeting, Appeals Board Chairman Fred Marston recounted comments made at the July 10 planning board meeting that he attended. Marston said that the planning board members, including the selectmen’s new appointees, were very concerned about the “apparent lack of vigorous enforcement of the planning board, appeals board, and Judge Cuddy’s ruling on no work on the two water-side cabins and the director’s cabin.” Marston said that because the situation “seems to drag on and on… [it] is festering with the planning board folks.”
Marston said that planning board members also expressed concerns about the town’s attorney James Patterson and limited access allowed to the assessor’s agent Matt Caldwell to visit the property.
According to the July 10 planning board meeting minutes, that board has written a letter to the selectmen inviting them to their next meeting to give them an update on the situation.
As reported in the April 19 issue of The Weekly Packet, Sedgwick CEO Duane Ford had sent a letter containing notice of violations and a stop work order to the Trust’s attorney, dated March 20. Unanswered questions were raised at the July 12 selectmen’s meeting about whether or not work was recently done on the roofs.
In response to questions from the press, selectmen Neil Davis and Colby Pert said that the value of the property on April 1 was determined for taxation purposes, but that the assessor’s agent is continuing to gather information about the property for legal purposes.
The selectmen declined to provide further details. Pert said that the tax assessment is not an issue; “the law case, we are not discussing because it is in process.” Davis expressed his confidence in Patterson, and repeated his statement that further information should not be disclosed at this stage of the legal process.
Resident and former selectman Charlie Wiggins had also attended the July 10 planning board meeting to express his concern over the work on the buildings on the pond. He said in a statement later to the Packet: “In my opinion, our ordinances should be complied with.”
The Pattens’ attorney, Clifford Goodall, could not be reached at press time for a comment.
In other business at the July 12 meeting, Selectman Victor Smith reported on the planning board’s work on an ordinance to regulate cell towers and related facilities, and the need for a six-month moratorium on applications until an ordinance could be completed and enacted. Also, former selectman Nelson Grindal reported on public works projects he was assisting the selectmen with.