HALLOWELL — The city will seek a court order and possible fines against an antique shop owner who has left messes atop and around his downtown building.

On Monday, Hallowell city councilors voted unanimously to seek a court order against Robert Dale, the owner of Brass & Friends Antiques at 152 and 154 Water St. The city says that scrap lumber, metal, furniture, bricks, appliances and other debris left outside the building and on its roof and decks is a clear violation of its solid waste ordinance.

Dale, who has squabbled with Hallowell and Fairfield over untidy properties before, didn’t come to Monday’s council meeting after an invitation from the city and could face thousands of dollars in fines.

Hallowell officials have said they sent Dale a certified letter notifying him of the ordinance violation in August, but that first letter wasn’t picked up and nothing changed after more notices were delivered. He was finally given until December to clear the mess, but it lingers today.

Dale didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment after the vote, but in February, he told the Kennebec Journal he would clean up “as soon as the snow melts” before hanging up on a reporter.

“He has been extremely difficult. Phone calls go unanswered. Certified mail gets refused,” said City Manager Michael Starn. “So, he certainly has shown he’s not willing to address the issues that we know and he knows we know exist.”

Monday’s council decision, which was approved with little discussion, directs Code Enforcement Officer Maureen AuCoin and city attorney Erik Stumpfel to prepare the city’s case for Augusta District Court. Under state law, the court is allowed to assess fines ranging from $100 to $2,500 per day for the violation, plus court and attorney fees. Starn told councilors Monday that he doesn’t foresee the city spending more than “a few thousand dollars” in legal fees.

If Hallowell is successful, it could be a costly year for Dale. In December, Fairfield got a court judgment forcing him to pay nearly $30,000 in penalties, court and legal fees after he was ordered in March to clean up debris and rectify code violations at his other antique store on U.S. Route 201.

Hallowell has cited Dale for various code issues dating back to the 1990s. In 2009, the city took him to court after it said he violated an agreement to tear down deteriorating buildings on a Second Street property. Dale eventually cleared and sold that property, but not before costing the city $75,000 in legal fees. The city has also placed tax liens on Dale’s properties every year since 2006.

Other downtown business owners have long complained that Dale’s building — which has had broken windows and structural problems — is an eyesore.

Recently, Row House, a local historic preservation group, proposed a city ordinance that would fine commercial building owners if their structure isn’t fully enclosed. Row House President Irv Paradis has said that was aimed at Dale. The proposal sits before a council subcommittee.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme


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