ROME — A resident of Wildwood Drive is facing a $10,000 fine after converting her garage into living quarters on a lot too small to hold multiple dwellings.

Susan Day-Donna attended the Board of Selectmen meeting Monday night to argue her case for having a second living quarters in her house, which she referred to as an in-law apartment. Donna-Day lives six months of the year in Florida, and the other six months at her Rome home.

According to town Code Enforcement Officer Andrew Marble, the house violates the minimum lot size ordinance, which says a resident must have 1 acre and 200 feet of road frontage per dwelling.

The converted garage has a kitchen area that includes a small refrigerator and a sink, as well as cooking utensils, a microwave oven and a George Foreman grill, Marble said, so it qualifies as an additional dwelling.

Day-Donna said that she owns Lot 33A next to her home, which would extend her acreage, but the selectmen said town records indicate that Patrick Sullivan owns the property and has a house on it.

Day-Donna had violated the same code previously, Marble said, and he had required her to remove just the stove and the refrigerator.


“There’s a legitimate kitchen there,” Marble said. “This time I wouldn’t stop at appliances.”

He said that, with the violation, Day-Donna is required to remove all appliances, as well as the cabinets and the sink. She also would have to expand her septic system due to the additional apartment in the residence.

“I’m not getting rid of my microwave. I’m not ever doing that,” Day-Donna said. She said she needs a microwave to use for health-related treatments, and she wants one and other appliances in a separate area so she won’t disturb the people living in the main part of her house, who are distant relatives.

The discussion ended when board Chairman Richard LaBelle told Day-Donna that she was out of order and called for a motion.

Selectman Malcolm Charles moved that Day-Donna was in willful violation and that the board would not negotiate with her because Day-Donna said that the kitchen equipment “will not be moved.” The motion passed 3-0.

“We will continue to pursue this,” LaBelle said. “If there is no action and we don’t see any work with (Marble) before the time expires with the order, then we will pursue this civilly.”


Day-Donna left the meeting with Shannon Lord, one of the two relatives she lives with, expecting to meet with Marble soon to work on the issue.

Though she also spends part of the year in Florida, “I belong here. Maine is my home,” Day-Donna told the board, referring to her family’s long history in Maine.

Marble said he sent a notice of a willful violation and a notice of a $10,000 fine to be paid 30 days after the letter arrived at the house, meaning Day-Donna will have to pay on Aug.1 — Monday — unless she brings the residence up to code. The letters were sent by certified mail and signed when received.

Day-Donna said she was away from Maine for health-related reasons when the letters came and that she didn’t sign them. She also said she didn’t get the notice about the $10,000 fine until July 12.

“I only know of one letter,” she said, “and the talks that we had (in the past), that were amiable.”

The selectmen could have extended the deadline by 12 days, which Marble said he had no problem with, but the board members chose not to negotiate with Day-Donna.


“We voted two meetings ago to declare your property to be in violation of town ordinances,” LaBelle said. “That’s why you have the price tag you have on it, because it’s been repetitive.”

Marble said he also received complaints in 2011 that Day-Donna was renting out part of her home. Marble inspected the building and found that the garage had been converted and that Day-Donna was living there while someone else lived in the main portion of the house. He told Day-Donna to take out the stove and the refrigerator. He also found that there wasn’t a plumbing permit for the bathroom attached to the garage, although Day-Donna contends that she does have a permit.

“The key to correcting this violation was to remove the second dwelling,” he said. He said he didn’t levy any fines against Day-Donna with the first violation because he wanted to correct to the problem and “be done with it.”

This past year Marble received complaints about multiple cars in the driveway. When he investigated, he said he found that the garage again had been converted into an apartment-style space with appliances.

He said he sent a notice of a willful violation because “the violator clearly has knowledge of the rules and regulations that are in place.” He also added to the violation that the septic system has to be expanded for the additional apartment at the residence, as mandated by state law.

Marble said Day-Donna can ask for a variance for medical reasons from the town’s Board of Appeals. She would have to file a building application, which Marble said he’d deny, and then appeal the denial to the board. Within 30 days, the board would hold a meeting and Day-Donna could state her argument. The board then would decide whether to allow a variance.


However, the size of her septic system falls under state law, so she would have to find a different way to appeal that requirement if she does not want to expand the system.

In other business, the selectmen accepted eight bids for tax-acquired properties without much discussion. One resident asked why the town would accept the lower bid from the previous owner of a property rather than give the property to a new owner.

“Unfortunately, for a lot of folks, it takes the town acquiring the property to pay their taxes,” LaBelle said. “While this (bidding on foreclosed properties) is a hobby for a lot of people, it’s a source of hardship for others.”

The board also granted small abatements for two properties because of depreciation calculation errors and ordered a small supplemental action for one property.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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