AUGUSTA — The town of Winthrop is suing a local attorney, claiming she made improvements to the basement of the building that houses her offices without the proper permits.

The lawsuit in Kennebec County Superior Court seeks injunctive relief and fines against Karen Burke, of Winthrop. Her building at 20 Green St. also has living quarters on the second floor.

According to the complaint, filed by attorney Michael Hodgins on behalf of the town, “Burke constructed or allowed to be constructed the basement improvements and allowed a change of occupancy of the premises without making application to the building official or obtaining the permits required by the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code.”

It also says Burke applied for a permit on Oct. 27, 2009, “to improve the basement, including adding a bathroom, removing and framing of walls, electrical work and installation of ceiling tiles.”

That permit application was denied by the town’s code enforcement officer, Beth Young, the following month, according to Hodgins. However, Hodgins said town employees inspected the building June 11, 2013, and found that the basement had improvements, including a full bathroom and kitchen area. It also says it was being used as an apartment by a tenant of Burke “despite the fact that the request for use of the basement as an apartment had specifically been denied in November 2009.”

The town says the use of the basement as an apartment is not in compliance with the safety code.

The town is seeking at least $100 a day for each day the improvements remain on the premises as well as removal of unpermitted improvements.

Burke, through a response filed in court by attorney Edmond J. Bearor, denies that the entire basement was unfinished and provides a 2002 tax information sheet as well as color photos of the basement. The response also says the apartment was leased only briefly. Records show that Burke bought the residential/office building in April 2002.

“Defendant has repeatedly asked for a permit for the bathroom to issue retroactively,” Bearor wrote in the response. He also said the bathroom plumbing was never covered and is available for inspection.

The case now is scheduled to go to mediation.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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