Heather Beasley, left, talks to Jon Madore and Kevin Campbell about the borderline during a public viewing Nov. 7, 2020, at her property in Dresden. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file Buy this Photo

DRESDEN — Even as the Dresden appeals board is preparing to resume its drawn-out hearing on a violation and stop work order at one of the town’s gravel pits, town officials have filed a lawsuit against the pit and its owner over violations they’ve cited at the pit starting in 2019.

The lawsuit, filed in District Court in Wiscasset by the town of Dresden against the Ballard-Milligan Gravel Corp. and Heather Beasley, seeks the correction of ongoing violations cited at the 334 Cedar Grove Road gravel pit, the payment of a penalty and a permanent injunction.

Those violations include excavating gravel and cutting trees into the 150-foot buffer strip required to be maintained between the affected land and the property boundary.

Third Selectman Allan Moeller Sr. said Friday that activity at the gravel pit has encroached on Ballard Road and has taken it out.

“The town of Dresden wants their road back,” Moeller said.

He said the lawsuit doesn’t have anything to do with Beasley’s ongoing appeal.

Beasley declined to comment Friday pending legal advice.

In her appeal filed with the Board of Appeals, Beasley contested the initial notice of violation and stop work order issued in 2019, saying that because her gravel pit has been in operation for decades, it’s exempt from regulations subsequently imposed by the state of Maine and the town of Dresden, which includes maintaining a 150-foot buffer strip.

She has also disputed the town’s ownership of Ballard Road.

Those violations say Beasley and her company have violated the town’s land-use and gravel pit ordinances by excavating too close to the property line and that she and her company have failed to submit a remediation plan for the work done at the gravel pit.

Heather Beasley talks about her gravel pit during a public viewing Nov. 7, 2020, at her property in Dresden. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

James Valley, Dresden’s code enforcement officer, issued a notice of violation May 15, 2019, to Beasley and the gravel pit, stating that a 150-foot buffer identified in the town’s land use ordinance was not being maintained between her gravel pit and that of her neighbor, Jack Shaw, and indicated the town had no agreement with Shaw agreeing to a reduced buffer. The notice gave her until June 3 to submit a written plan of how she would fix that and bring the property into compliance with the town’s land use ordinances.

On July 29, the town issued a stop work order, halting all activity at the gravel pit, because it said it had received no plan detailing how the conditions at the gravel pit would be corrected.

In September, Beasley and her attorney appealed Valley’s decision to the Dresden Board of Appeals on three grounds. She maintains her gravel pit is not subject to the town’s Land Use and Planning Ordinance because operations at the pit predate those regulations, that the setbacks from a road or right-of-way don’t apply because the road is not a public road and that Dresden’s code enforcement office and selectmen improperly rejected the remediation plan that was submitted in response to the violation notice issued in May.

At about the same time, she split her gravel pit into two properties, a move that’s described by deeds on file at the Lincoln County Registry of Deeds.

The Board of Appeals met for the first time on this issue in October 2019 and set up a hearing for December 2019. The board continued to meet into 2020 until the COVID-19 pandemic called a halt to in-person meetings.

In February 2020, the Dresden Board of Selectmen, after hearing a presentation from historian Jay Robbins, decided to take legal action to determine that Ballard Road is a town road. In October, the Board of Appeals conducted a site walk at the gravel pit and scheduled another meeting, which was canceled.

The Dresden Board of Appeals is scheduled to meet again on this matter at 6 p.m. April 29.

The lawsuit also seeks costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

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