FAIRFIELD — The owner of an antique store has been given until mid-June to clean up the property after resolving some issues and making a payment on a substantial fine owed to the town.

Town officials have been trying for more than two years to get Robert Dale, owner of Maine 201 Antiques, to clean up his property, bring it into compliance with the town’s land use and junkyard ordinances, and resolve outstanding safety problems. He even faces a possible stint in jail if the property defects aren’t addressed.

Within the last few months, however, Dale has made significant progress toward addressing their concerns, according to town officials.

Much of the debris that has littered the property, including household items, farm tools, exterior windows and doors, assorted metal and glass, has been removed, apparently stored in at least 10 large trailers on the property. Items previously stored on the building’s roof have been removed.

Dale has resolved multiple safety violations that led the Fairfield Fire Department to close the antique store last summer.

“We very much appreciate the progress that has been made,” Town Manager Joshua Reny said on Wednesday.

Dale was due in court in January for a show-cause hearing to explain why he had missed a November deadline to clean up the property, but that hearing was put off until early March because of a scheduling conflict, town attorney William Lee said on Wednesday.

At the court appearance this month, Dale showed that he had dealt with life-safety problems, including failing to clear exits of obstructions and having only one means of egress from the building.

He paid $2,000 toward the nearly $29,000 he owes the town and also committed to continuing cleanup operations at his property.

In recognition of his efforts and the fact that removing items and debris from the property would be hampered by heavy snow on the ground, the town agreed to postpone the case for nearly four months, Lee said.

“He says that is all the time he needs,” Lee said, adding that if everything is taken care of and Dale keeps making payments on his fine, the town may postpone the case again.

“After all, what we’re after is compliance,” Lee said. “We want him to do what he’s supposed to do.”

Dale is due to appear in court again June 22, according to Lee.

Fixing the safety violations was a major step forward, Lee noted.

“The fire chief was very happy about that,” he said.

Reny said that Chief Duane Bickford inspected the building this month and confirmed the safety issues had been resolved. One outstanding issue is that a large trailer parked in front of the building could prevent firefighters from accessing the property. The department will remove its posting against occupancy once it is removed, Reny said. Bickford was out of the office and not available for comment Wednesday.

Safety issues aside, the property still is considered an illegal junkyard and in violation of the town’s land use ordinance, Reny noted.

The expectation is for Dale to remove the remaining debris by the June court date, he said. Although the winter’s heavy snowfall understandably has delayed cleaning up the site, that excuse won’t stand up months from now, Reny said.

The town already had been wrangling with Dale about his property for more than a year before a Skowhegan District Court judge ordered him to come into compliance and fined him nearly $10,000 in March 2014.

Dale missed a June 2014 deadline to clean up the property and another deadline in November, which led to a threatened seven-day jail sentence for contempt of court.

Fairfield was awarded a total of $28,369 in combined penalties and court fees in a judgment late last year. According to Lee, so far Dale has paid $4,500 to the town.

Dale’s attorney, Walter McKee of Augusta, said Wednesday that his client intended to abide by the new agreement with the town. At this point, a jail sentence does not seem likely, he added.

“It’s always a possibility down the road, but at this point jail has been averted,” McKee said.

The city of Hallowell also is pressuring Dale to clean up debris around and on the roof of the Brass and Friends Antiques store. Earlier this month, city councilors there voted to seek a court order against Dale, and he could face thousands of dollars in fines.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire


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