ROME — A dispute over a sprawling automobile junkyard in this Kennebec County town is scheduled for a court hearing later this month in an effort to resolve a conflict between the site’s owners and town officials, who have refused to grant a permit until cleanup is done.

The case, scheduled for a hearing May 29 in Waterville District Court, pits the town against Larry and Janet DiPietro, who own the junkyard at 602 Augusta Road, which is also Route 27.

The dispute stretches back to October 2017, when the Rome Board of Selectmen denied the DiPietros’ request for a renewal of their junkyard permit.

A hearing is scheduled for later this month in Waterville to determine how and when to clean up a junkyard owned by Larry and Janet DiPietro at 602 Augusta Road in Rome and whether to impose fines or penalties. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

According to court records, the DiPietros had licenses from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for more than 1,000 vehicles on their property as of July 2018, and at least 125 were either unregistered or uninspected. A sign on a large garage at the property advertises “Antique Auto” and “Auto Sale’s & Salvage.”

Janet DiPietro declined to comment Wednesday and said her husband also was not interested in commenting.

Other reasons given for the denial included failure to screen the junkyard from ordinary view, to handle fluids properly to prevent leakage or water contamination, to maintain a log of all motor vehicles handled, and to demonstrate that the junkyard is part of a viable business entity, according to court records.

According to state statute, all vehicles, vehicle parts and materials associated with the operation of a junkyard are to be removed within 180 days of a permit denial, and cleanup has to start within 90 days.

When that did not happen, the town code enforcement officer issued a notice of violation to the DiPietros, asking them to start on the cleanup. According to the notice, failure to comply could result in fees of up to $2,500 per day.

Paul Anderson, first selectman in Rome, said the town is not charging the DiPietros any fees currently. He also did not have an estimate of how much money the town has spent in legal fees on the case to date.

“He’s working to clean the place up,” Anderson said of DiPietro. “He’s taken several loads of junk to the recycling and several loads of cars to recycling. He’s working on cleaning the place up, but it is still an eyesore.”

The DiPietros have argued in court records that they did not need the junkyard license because they have a recycler’s license issued by the Maine secretary of state.

District Court Judge Valerie Stanfill in January issued a summary judgement in the town’s favor, writing that the court disagreed with the DiPietros’ claim they did not need a town permit.

She also upheld the process by which the town notified the DiPietros of the violations and served them with the paperwork. Stanfill wrote that because the DiPietros did not appeal the notice of violation they received from the town, it became binding and final.

The hearing scheduled for May 29 will determine how and when the property must be cleaned up and whether fines or penalties will be imposed.

 

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