OAKLAND — A civil action by the town of Oakland against the town of Sidney has been set for 8:30 a.m. Nov. 7 in Waterville District Court.

Official notice of the civil lawsuit was given to the Oakland Town Council on Wednesday night by Town Manager Gary Bowman during his first meeting in his new post.

Bowman, a former Oakland police officer, will represent the town in the case. Bowman will be accompanied by one of the five town councilors in court, but no one was appointed to do that Wednesday night.

The council unanimously voted in September to pursue civil action for $3,420 in radio tower payments officials believe is owed by the town of Sidney. The action will take place in small claims court.

The council Wednesday night also agreed to begin the process of writing a local noise ordinance after residents of McGrath Pond Road complained of early morning noise from a logging operation. Skidders, trucks and other heavy equipment arrive in the area at 3 a.m., resident Eric Hopkins said.

Bowman said he has investigated complaints and police officers have visited the site. He said he spoke with the contractor, Michael Gould, of Cornville, and was assured that logging crews would start work at 6 a.m., not 3 a.m. That oral agreement did not last, so he began researching noise ordinances already in place in other towns as a model.

Councilor Don Borman said a noise ordinance was written in Oakland in 2004 but not adopted. He said a rough draft of the document is still available to be used as a guideline.

The Gould operation will be done in about a month, councilors said, but the point of establishing an ordinance will be to have something in place if needed in the future.

Hopkins said the ordinance should have teeth, so small fines will not be paid as simply as a cost of doing business.

In the radio tower dispute, the two towns signed a contract two years ago to share the cost of leasing the communications tower for $4,800 annually; but since then, Sidney officials say, their first responders no longer get adequate service from the tower and the town had to contract for $5,000 with a different provider.

There are three years left on the lease, but Sidney officials argued that the lack of service voided their obligation to pay for the tower they can’t use. The tower is on High Street — Route 137 — in Oakland.

Oakland officials, however, have said town residents can’t be left holding the bag for more money than they agreed to pay.

Former Town Manager Peter Nielsen, who retired at the end of September, said he sent a letter on June 22 that gave Sidney a Sept. 1 deadline to pay what’s owed, but the town never heard back from Sidney.

Nielsen said he looked into whether the town could try to get the money through a collection agency, but said he was told the best course of action for that small amount would be small claims court.

Councilman Don Borman said he has heard feedback from residents that supports taking action to collect the money from Sidney.

“The sentiment is that there is support to do it,” Borman said in September.

Sidney previously tried to buy its way out of the contract for $1,500, but Oakland returned the check.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow


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