SKOWHEGAN — The owner of Maine 201 Antiques in Fairfield has been given a new deadline by a judge to comply with an order that he clean up his cluttered property or go to jail.

Robert Dale, who was ordered in March to clean up debris and fix health and safety violations at his U.S. Route 201 property, now has until Nov. 15 to clean up the property.

If the property isn’t cleaned up by then, Dale faces seven days in jail, according to an order issued Wednesday by District Court Judge Andrew Benson. The judge stayed enforcement of the jail sentence until Dec. 1 while setting the Nov. 15 deadline for compliance.

Dale also is under an order to pay $5,169 in legal fees by the same date. He had previously missed a June deadline for clearing the property of old furniture, tools, tires and other items that sat on the ground and blocked entrances and exits to a warehouse and retail store. If the town of Fairfield, which brought a contempt of court charge against Dale in August, is not satisfied with the cleanup, it can ask the judge to order Dale to appear in court to explain why the work was not done.

If the judge is not satisfied with the explanation and finds that Dale had the ability to comply with the order, he could order Dale to serve the seven days in jail.

“He has to be in full compliance with all the terms of the March 5, 2014, court order, which means he has to continue making $500 monthly payments and has to have everything cleaned up on the outside and he has to remedy all the fire code violations,” Waterville attorney Bill Lee, who represents the town of Fairfield, said Thursday. “And he has to pay the town’s legal fees.”

A lot of old stuff accumulated on the ground and in trailers surrounding the antique store, including old furniture, piles of windows, tools and metal since the town first took notice of the hazards in September 2012.

“I would say it’s a vindication of the town’s position that people within the town of Fairfield are going to be required to comply with the laws of the state of Maine and the laws of the town of Fairfield,” Lee said of Benson’s order.

Augusta attorney Walter McKee, who represents Dale, said the new deadline reflects his assertion in August that Dale was doing his best to clean up the property and was not in contempt of the court order. He said the extension of the deadline will allow Dale to meet all aspects of the March cleanup order.

“This does seem to be a reasonable finding,” McKee said by phone Thursday. “I didn’t think he was in contempt because he has been making so many efforts to comply. The additional time — Nov. 15 — is certainly appreciated, and we’ll see where we are on Nov. 15. This allows Robert some additional time to do what he intended to do all along.”

Fairfield Fire Chief Duane Bickford and Code Enforcement Officer Nicole Martin told the judge during the contempt hearing in August that by not clearing emergency exits and fire routes, Dale was putting himself and anyone who visited the property in danger. A portfolio of 18 photographs of the property and debris was presented in court as evidence.

Lee asked the judge in August to send Dale to jail for 30 days if his work to clean up what the town contends is a junkyard is not complete by Sept. 24.

After reviewing testimony from the hearing, Benson declared that Dale had done “everything within his power” to comply with the cleanup of the exterior of the buildings and denied that portion of the contempt motion, which is a civil charge, not criminal.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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