SKOWHEGAN — A contempt of court hearing for a Fairfield antique dealer who the town contends has illegally turned his property into a junkyard is scheduled for Monday in Skowhegan District Court.

Robert Dale, owner of Maine 201 Antiques, missed a June deadline imposed by a judge in March to clean up piles of junk from his property on U.S. Route 201 and has not paid fines and fees already accrued on the property, the town’s lawyer, William Lee of Waterville, said.

“The position of the town is that, despite all the time he has been given and all the opportunity he has had, he has come nowhere near complying with the terms of the March 5 court order,” Lee said. “He neither has made any payments to the town nor has he eliminated the junkyard that he had or eliminated the numerous fire code violations that exist on or about the property.”

Dale’s lawyer, Walter McKee of Augusta, said the town has to show that, not only was the order not complied with, but that his client had the ability to comply with the order but chose not to comply.

“I’m not sure that’s the case here, so we’ll contest all aspects of it,” McKee said.

McKee said his client is making every effort to clean up the property, but has fallen behind on the job.

“There was a court order that said he had to clean up within a certain period of time and also to pay money in a certain period of time and they said he did neither,” McKee said. “There have been clean-up efforts under way since the court order, and because of extenuating circumstances he hasn’t been able to do as much as he would have liked.”

McKee said he will provide details of those circumstances when the matter goes to court on Monday.

In March, Dale agreed to settle the case brought against him by the town. He had until June 15 to clean up the property or face the hearing on contempt, which is a civil charge, not a criminal charge.

Under the agreement, by missing the June 15 deadline, Dale incurred a $5,000 penalty and fines of $150 per day until the property is in compliance, Lee said.

“It’s certainly adding up,” Lee said. “He owes the town from the first court order almost $10,000 in legal fees. There was a $5,000 civil penalty assessed, which was going to be waived if he had complied by June 15, but of course he did not.”

Lee said the $150 per day fine continues to accrue every day and will continue. As of Friday it had been more than 65 days since the order, meaning Dale would owe almost $10,000 in additional civil penalties.

Lee said Dale can not avoid the mounting fines by declaring bankruptcy because the town could then seize his assets to apply to pay his debts. Dale owns property in Fairfield, Augusta and Hallowell.

The yard surrounding the antique store has had a lot of old stuff on the ground and in trailers, including old furniture, piles of windows and tools. In addition, the agreement specified that Dale must fix seven fire code violations and come into compliance with the town’s land-use ordinance. Dale has also put some materials on the roof of the building, which Fairfield Town Manager Josh Reny said is likely a violation of state building codes.

Reny said that the town’s ordinances require that all materials be stored off the ground in enclosed containers. He said he expects the town’s code enforcement officer and fire chief to testify Monday. The hearing is set to begin at 1 p.m.

Neighbors have expressed concern that a fire could break out on Dale’s property and threaten their buildings. The town has also said Dale’s building is so full of items that it could collapse from the weight.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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