CHINA — The Board of Appeals met for the second time in two months to decide on another appeal of an action taken by the town’s code enforcement officer, Paul Mitnik.

In this case, Kevin Meader appealed the placement of a dock on 13 58th Fire Road. While the neighbors went to court and agreed on a private right of way, Meader said it stipulates that there can’t be any structures in the area, but Sheila Higgins has placed a dock in the area.

A copy of the right-of-way document was not provided in the testimony.

The board voted to deny the appeal, 6-0, because of its finding that the dock is grandfathered, and therefore the board does not have jurisdiction over the case.

The board also voted, 5-0 with two abstentions, on a finding of fact that the dock is grandfathered because there was evidence and testimony that it has been there for many years, so it doesn’t require a permit.

It also voted, 5-1, that the right of way has not been defined fully and therefore the board cannot make a judgment on the issue.

The dispute over the private right of way and land ownership has been going on for years, according to documents in the appeals packet.

In August 2011, the Meaders asked the Higginses to take out the dock.

An attorney for the Meaders, Warren Shay, of Perkins, Townsend, Shay and Talbot, P.A., issued a notice to Sheila Higgins saying that she must remove the dock.

The dock was removed that month with a sheriff present, as well as the Higginses’ lawyer, Joann Austin, of the Austin Law Office, and placed on the Higginses’ property.

According to Sheila Higgins, the dock had been in that area for decades, and they had taken it out that month to replace it with an improved dock.

“All of a sudden they’re telling us that we can’t go there at all,” Higgins said. “My children have been going there since they were born, and it’s been very difficult for us for the past eight years.”

Meader, however, disputed that and said that he has photos of the area going back to 1965 showing that there was no dock.

In 2016, the Higginses placed the new dock on Stan Rodrigue’s property as the land dispute continued, and they obtained an after-the-fact permit from Mitnik. This summer, they again placed the dock in the right of way, which Meader asserts violates the agreement.

Higgins said they want the dock to be in the right of way so the community can use it.

Chris Pike, who lives in the same subdivision and bought a new dock for the Higginses and others to use in the right of way, said they’ve all used that area since he bought his house in 2002.

“We never had this problem until a certain individual took over the property,” he said.

There is also a dispute over where the property boundaries lie. A number of surveys have been done in the area and produced conflicting results. A new survey is being done to try to resolve those problems, but is not yet finished.

Mitnik declined to get involved in the land disputes. When he saw photos of the dock that went back to a certain year, he said the Higginses were grandfathered and did not require a permit.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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