Town Receives Summons for
“ Burning Prohibited Material”.
Amity has a date in court on the 19 th of this month according to a summons issued by Forest Ranger Jeremiah Crockett for “burning prohibited material”.
The Town Officials (scroll down to see update!!) decided to haul the remains of the twice-burned Town Office to the fields behind Joe Ledger’s house and some of it to the Town Gravel Pit for a third burning. One would think that Joe, the Town Fire Warden, would know this act was illegal since he was supposed to attend some classes when appointed as Fire Warden. He was on the Board of Directors for the Katahdin Valley Waste Disposal District since its inception and is still the alternate representative for the Town. Instead of picking up the telephone and asking the best way to dispose of this material, the Selectmen decided to put the Town at risk by just piling up the debris and burning it. It took four nights to burn all the debris in the Ledger fields! State law requires someone in attendance with tools until the fire is out. Who tended it during the day as it burned and smoldered?
A nonresident called the Department of Environmental Protection with questions about possible pollution of the aquifer resulting from such an action before the burning began. Are you aware The Town Gravel Pit sits over one of the largest aquifers in the State of Maine? Your Selectmen know it! Selectman Glen Clifford has mentioned this numerous times with, what I thought, was great pride. Why ever would you want to run the risk of polluting it?
As you can see from the pictures, the original pile in the Town Pit (public property) contained plastics, siding, and computers. Everett Carson, Director of the Maine Natural Resources Council, said a main concern was possible mercury contamination from computers. Also on the pile were plastic flowerpots and materials from the cemetery. Apparently, on this occasion, the town gravel pit became the town trash pit.
After the DEP contacted the Town, two Selectmen and Tom Hall removed the computers and some of the plastics from the pile in the pit. From the pictures, you can see they did not remove all the plastics. Since the rest of the piles are on private property, they are not open to public inspection so we will never know what burned there.
The timing of the burn seems questionable since the piles sat exposed to the elements for over a week. Was it just a coincidence the local Forest Ranger was on vacation? Or that the burning started after the DEP was called and before they could come and inspect? Lou Pizzuti of the DEP confirmed that they had requested that the material not be burned. When Mr. Pizzuti contacted the forest service, Ranger Crockett told him that the town officials said that the DEP had given them the go ahead to burn. The DEP was quite surprised and unhappy that the Town ignored their request and went ahead with the burning. Between the Selectmen burning illegal materials and lying to the DEP, they have gotten the town in quite a pickle, and a pretty sour one at that! Will they ever admit the truth of their actions? If not, how much more is it going to cost the taxpayers?
According to Mr. Pizzuti, the standard procedure is to shovel the mess up into a transfer container, and then take it to one of two landfills, which are qualified to test the debris for contaminants. After testing, the DEP will make a decision on where the remains are to be sent for final disposal. At the same time, they will make a determination as to the fine assessed against the town. All this because no one would take the time to pick up a telephone and ask what the best thing to do was.
Town Manager, Darrell Williams, said on Friday (the 8 th) that the Town plans to go to court and plead not guilty. When asked who the Town lawyer is he replied that we do not have one. The plan is “to just pay the fine if it is not too much”. The money for the fines will have to come from the taxpayers of this Town. Don't you think a simple phone call would have been cheaper?
At a Selectmen’s meeting a couple of years ago we were told, by the then Chairman of the Board, Joe Ledger, that the laws of Maine do not apply to Amity because we are such a small town. Slamming his fist on the Municipal Officers Manual, he shouted, “We have never gone by this (obscenity) book and are never going to! We will run things here like we always have!” It is quite refreshing to see that they are really not above the law.
Check back often for updates! Once the Forest Service finishes, it will be the DEP’s turn at bat!
Because of our studies in Municipal and State Laws and extensive library on these issues, citizens frequently approach your webmaster and me with questions about the Selectman’s activities. If you have any questions you would like brought before the Selectmen and are either uncomfortable asking yourself or unable to attend the monthly Selectmen’s meetings, please feel free to email the question to Amity Matters and we will ask the Selectmen. We will publish the question and answer from the Selectmen in Amity Matters for you to read. Your name and email address will be confidential if requested.
Amity has its day in court.
In Houlton District Court this afternoon, with all the Selectmen present, Town Manager Darrell Williams stepped forward to plead guilty to the charge of “burning prohibited material” brought against the Town of Amity by the Forest Service. Judge Bernard O’Mara levied a fine of $100 against the town. With the added 20% surcharge on fines and $10 awarded to the Victims Compensation Fund, the total cost came to $130.