Ellsworth construction contractor R.F. Jordan is under fire from Bar Harbor officials for using this Town Hill property to stockpile materials this winter without the proper permits. Code Enforcement Officer Angela Chamberlain says that the use is not allowed and has refused to issue a permit. PHOTO BY ROBERT LEVIN

Code violations draw scrutiny

BAR HARBOR — Two businesses that recently have tried to expand in Town Hill are facing possible fines and other legal action after being accused of violating land use ordinance rules.

Code Enforcement Officer Angela Chamberlain last week issued letters to both property owners stating that because of what she considers unresolved code violations, she is bringing requests for further enforcement to town councilors.

Ellsworth construction company R.F. Jordan and Sons is the target of one of Chamberlain’s letters because of their operations at 1561 State Highway 102, a 54-acre site formerly operated as a junkyard by Edward “Teddy” McFarland.

The company has been using the property since last fall to stockpile granite and other supplies for building projects on the island. However, Chamberlain alleges that the zoning ordinance does not allow the use and that Jordan does not possess the proper permits for the large, white tents on the property. She has claimed the property is in violation of town code since issuing a notice on Jan. 20.

Before the violation notice, Chamberlain informed R.F. Jordan that the property could not be used to stockpile material. Patrick Jordan told the Islander at the time that he would just use it as a maintenance facility. Since the issuance of the notice of violation, Chamberlain has been back and forth with Jordan representative Tim Brochu on whether the activities currently existing on the site are allowed.

A property owned by Town Hill plumbing and heating businessman Randy Sprague also is in the town’s crosshairs. According to a violation notice originally sent in January, “Your Pet’s Next Best Friend” veterinary clinic, which is now open in the front of Sprague’s plumbing and heating shop at 1509 State Highway 102, is operating without the proper permits.

Chamberlain outlined in the Jan. 12 notice of violation that while a building permit application was submitted in November 2014 to install interior walls and doors, a permit to change the use from retail to veterinary clinic was never issued.

Clinic proprietor Kathleen Prunier was informed that she needed to install a restroom, gain approval from the State Fire Marshall and discuss with the town how the change of use would match with the existing septic system, Chamberlain wrote.

Sprague said Wednesday that he felt awful about the situation, and that he never intended to violate town rules. The process from deciding to rent the front of the shop to Prunier’s opening went a lot quicker than he expected, and as he was focused on completing all of the renovations, including those to allow him a functioning shop in the back of the building. Certain permitting requirements just slipped, he said.

Sprague said he would be scrambling this week to gain fire marshal approval before meeting with councilors on Tuesday.

“I just can’t afford daily fines,” he said. “I decided to rent the front of the building out to help with my mortgage after I downsized my business. It just happened a lot faster than I planned.”

Sprague said that while he understands the value of town zoning rules, his situation points out how difficult it can be to do business here.

“Angela had told me that I could appeal her findings and gain more time that way. But I don’t have the funds or the time to do that. If I had a team like Walsh or Witham [large hotel owners], I could slow this whole process to a slow crawl. But I just have myself,” he said.

Robert Levin

Robert Levin

Former reporter Robert Levin covered the people, businesses, governmental and nonprofit agencies of Bar Harbor. [email protected]
Robert Levin

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