NORTH YARMOUTH — The Yarmouth Water District will pay the town of North Yarmouth $32,688 for illegally tearing down a vacant historic house on Baston Road in July as part of a resource protection plan.

The North Yarmouth Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 Tuesday night to approve a consent agreement that requires the water district to pay a $20,000 civil penalty and cover $12,688 in legal fees and other costs incurred by the town.

“It is a fair and just resolution to the issue at hand,” Selectmen Chairman Steve Palmer said Wednesday. “I can’t imagine that this will happen again.”

The consent agreement was negotiated with and approved by water district officials, who initially offered to pay a $2,500 fine and cover $1,500 in legal fees.

The water district, through its contractor, razed the 200-year-old house on July 8 without getting a demolition permit from the town’s code enforcement officer or notifying the town’s historical society, as required because the house was built before 1900.

Under Maine land-use laws, the water district, which serves Yarmouth and North Yarmouth, and Scott Dugas Trucking & Excavation of Yarmouth faced possible fines totaling $300,000.

After the illegal demolition came to light, the water district and Dugas Trucking returned the house’s 30-foot-long center roof beam and about a dozen antique floor boards to the town.

Those salvaged pieces of wood and the filled foundation at 129 Baston Road are all that remain of the sturdy, center-chimney Cape that was Marvin and Ruby Beckwith’s home for more than 65 years.

The water district bought the 17-acre farm from the Beckwiths’ heirs in June because it’s within an aquifer protection area. The property sold for $270,000.

Water district officials have apologized for tearing down the house, which preservation advocates say could have been saved and possibly moved to another site if the district had followed the law.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

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