PALMYRA – After several years of effort, seven families in the Nokomis Park Subdivision off Route 100 hit a wall Wednesday night when the Palmyra selectmen refused to enforce a town ordinance that would have required the park road to be paved.
The park’s developer, Hadley Smith, has failed to pave Nokomis Road, according to the park’s homeowners’ association members, in defiance of an ordinance that required him to do so when the park was created in 1989.
After hearing from town attorney Edmond Bearor last week that the town may not prevail if it took Smith to court, selectmen said that although they agree that it is Smith’s responsibility to pave the road, they were leaving any court action up to the park’s residents.
“Somewhere along the line, before us, someone dropped the ball,” Chairman Sheila Pooler said. “But we need to go with our attorney’s advice. We can’t take this to court and lose.”
Bearor determined that even though the town’s planning board noted in 1991 that the road would be paved according to subdivision specifications before acceptance as a town way, that was not a condition of approval.
Bearor did suggest that the planning board take Smith’s failure to pave into consideration when reviewing any future expansion of the park.
The next step for association members may be a civil suit against both Smith and the town, Don Harriman and John White, association members, said Wednesday night.
Reached at his home Wednesday evening, Smith said he had no intention of paving the road “because the initial permit did not require it.” He said he was not legally bound to do so. When asked if he felt an ethical responsibility to the property owners who believed the road would be paved, Smith said “I think they made a mistake.”
Smith predicted that if the association sued him, the case would be “thrown out of court” as groundless.
According to park association minutes of a May 21 meeting, Smith stated that he had planned to pave the road and that his brother, James Smith, was to have done the work. When James Smith went out of business, however, the paving was never done.
Harriman said the decision to file civil suits would have to be made by an association vote and it would need to be nearly unanimous.
In other business, the board agreed to pay the tipping fees – which have yet to be calculated – for debris removed from the former 170-year-old St. Martins’ Episcopal Church.
The church on Route 2 burned on April 19 in what later was determined to be an electrical fire. Tipping fees above and beyond what insurance pays have traditionally been paid by the town for fire debris removal.
Meanwhile, town officials have the final accounting for the firefighting costs for the massive blaze.
With no fire department of its own, Palmyra relies on agreements with neighboring communities for fire protection. Some charge a flat, yearly fee, while others charge per call. The St. Martin’s fire drew firefighters and apparatus from St. Albans, Hartland, Skowhegan, Pittsfield, Newport and Corinna.
Pittsfield and Newport have a yearly contract with Palmyra and therefore did not charge above that fee for the church fire.
Hartland firefighters were at an electrical fire in their own town and only sent a handful of men to Palmyra, Chief Donny Neal said Wednesday. Hartland did not charge for the service.
Skowhegan sent an aerial truck but only charges if the fire is arson in nature and restitution would be an issue.
Corinna also did not charge for services.
St. Albans, however, charges both man hour and truck hour fees. The town billed Palmyra for 12 truck hours at $170 an hour and 80 man hours at $10 an hour, for a final tally of $2,840, according to town records.