ROME — A dispute between the town government and a resident over access to a cemetery is set to be resolved with an agreement that aims to avoid a legal battle.

The proposed stipulated order and judgment in Kennebec County Superior Court is between Peter Fotter and the town, which had filed a lawsuit involving the public right of way to Tuttle Cemetery. The Board of Selectmen voted 2-0 Monday to approve the conditions of the stipulated order, which Fotter’s attorney also has signed.

The town alleged that Fotter obstructed the entrance to the cemetery at 94 Oak Ridge Road, off North Pond Road, with “DOT fill material,” according to court documents, leaving the cemetery inaccessible to maintenance vehicles and nearly inaccessible by foot.

The fill was removed days after the town and Fotter met for mediation in the court case, according to Fotter’s attorney, Walter McKee.

The cemetery is accessible by traveling down Fotter’s driveway, which continues past his house, to the site. The town alleged he intentionally placed debris where the continued road starts past his driveway.

The town owns both the cemetery and the right of way for the town and the public, according to court documents. Revolutionary War soldiers, sailors and other veterans are buried in the cemetery, which is 0.3 acres and marked by stone walls around the perimeter.

According to Selectman Richard LaBelle, the town made multiple attempts over months to contact Fotter over the phone, in person and via mail. The town sent multiple certified letters that went unanswered or were refused.

“He was nonresponsive to the requests,” LaBelle said. “We exhausted our reasonable efforts.”

However, McKee said the lawsuit was “much ado about nothing” and that the issue could have been worked out without legal action.

McKee said Fotter never meant to deny access to the town. He had asked a road crew to put fill in the area because it was running bare, and they put more than he had planned for, according to McKee. Fotter was in the process of removing the fill when the town filed the lawsuit, McKee said.

“It was a surprise that they took such an aggressive action,” McKee said.

LaBelle said in an interview that this was not how the town understood the situation.

The stipulated order still needs approval by a judge, but it has been signed by town’s attorney, Frank Underkuffler; the mediator, Judge John McElwee; and McKee. It says that the Fotters shall remove all of the fill material from the easement and right of way within 30 days of the order’s approval and return the area to the same condition it was in prior to the fill incident.

It also says that the Fotters, their heirs and assigns are not allowed to obstruct, interfere with or harass town officials or members of the public who are trying to maintain or visit the cemetery.

If the Fotters are found to have violated these stipulations, they will owe the town its court costs, reasonable attorney’s fees and a civil penalty of not less than $500 and not more than $3,000. Fotter also would be required to pay the $508 court costs for the town.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour