Media Archive

County ponders illegal junkyards

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 25, June 18, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

DOVER-FOXCROFT Automobile graveyards have long been a part of the Maine landscape.

Problem is, many are unpermitted, as required by state law.

The Piscataquis County Commissioners and Sheriff John Goggin talked about the problem of illegal junkyards Tuesday morning, after receiving a letter from the Maine Land-Use Regulations Commission notifying of five such operations in Omeville.

In the June 4 letter, Andrew Flynt, compliance investigator and environmental specialist with LURC, said that five complaints of junked automobiles and automobile parts stored on properties in Orneville have been substantiated.

If not permitted through the county, Flynt said, the junkyards are illegal, under state statute.

Eben DeWitt, chairman of the commissioners said he had spoken to one of the property owners, along with Flynt, to bring the property into compliance. He said none of the property owners listed holds a permit with the county,

"I think it's a statewide problem," said Sheriff John Goggin, noting the state's definftion of an automotive graveyard consists of "three or more unregistered, uninspected vehicles sitting in an unsightly manner on a property."

He said the state law has been enforced sporadically, and that typically, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."

"It's a nightmare, an epidemic in the state of Maine," Goggin said. "I'd like to see all law enforcement coordinate enforcement."

He said that such attention would require manpower, time and resources, "If we do it in Orneville, I'd say, let's do it countywide," he said.

"This is new territory for us," DeWitt said.

Flynt said the goal is to work with the landowners and not embarass them if a junkyard is not permitted.

He encouraged anybody who has questions or concerns about whether they are operating illegally to call LURC or the county commissioners' office.

He said permitting can mean planting a vegatative screen or installing a fence and making sure the setback from the roadway and other property lines is adequate.

" We have no interest in taking away someone's livelihood. We want property owners to be environmentally responsible, but also responsible to their neighbors," Flynt said. We get so many calls from people who are worried about their property values, or the scenery. "

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.