The property at 28 Whitetail Lane, right, and 18 Fernwood Road, left, on Sebago Lake in Raymond are seen in 2022 after renovations to the two properties were completed. The properties are at the center of a series of shoreland zoning violations involving Auburn businessman Donald Buteau. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file

AUGUSTA — Municipalities and environmental groups lined up behind a bill last week that would give towns more powers to handle landowners who flout state shoreland laws.

The bill, L.D. 2101 sponsored by state Sen. Tim Nangle, D-Cumberland, would allow municipalities the authority to restrict, suspend or revoke any municipally issued permit to the owner of real estate who violates the state mandated Shoreland Zoning Ordinance.

It would also allow municipalities and the Maine Land Use Planning Commission to place a lien against the real estate for all costs related to the ordinance violation incurred by the municipality, including, but not limited to, attorney’s fees and court costs, and any unpaid penalties imposed on the owner of the real estate.

The LUPC was included in the bill because it does the job of municipalities too small or remote to have employees or code enforcement.

The bill is in response to a call for help from residents in Raymond and town officials who appealed to state lawmakers at a community meeting last September.

The town of Raymond has been locked in a more than two-year legal battle with Auburn businessman Donald Buteau and his real estate holding company, Management Controls, over a series of shoreland zoning violations for two of his properties on Sebago Lake. The town has racked up more than $300,000 in attorney’s fees trying to enforce the violations.


In late October 2021, the shoreland in front of the two homes owned by Buteau at 18 Fernwood Road and 28 Whitetail Lane was transformed in two weeks from its natural landscape of tall trees, native vegetation and rocky shore to an open landscape of at least 400 linear feet of riprap — rock — lining the shore.

In public hearing testimony before the Legislature’s committee on State and Local Government, Raymond Assistant Code Enforcement Officer Chris Hanson explained to lawmakers last week why the unpermitted work threatens the Sebago Lake ecosystem.

The lakefront property at 18 Fernwood Road in Raymond as seen Sep.14, 2022, is one of two at the center of a shoreland zoning ordinance violations case and subsequent legal fight between the town and owner Donald Buteau that is in its third year. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file

A photo of the property at 18 Fernwood Road in Raymond taken in August 2021 before the shoreland changes were made on owner Donald Buteau’s property. Town of Raymond photo

“What happens in a belly washer or a thundershower in the summer, is all that rainwater runs off the roof, onto the lawn and down over that riprap where it’s superheated because the rocks are on the south side so they heat up. So, now this water is warm if not hot,” Hanson explained.

“That water is coming down superheated and anything living at the bottom of that retaining wall is now going to suffocate and die. That means all the new salamanders, the little bugs, the fish, the frogs, any loons will not nest there — it’s too hot. So, it’s very important that we maintain that ecosystem.”

There’s also the added threat of phosphorus runoff from lawns so close to the lakeshore, which can cause algae blooms and toxins.

Hanson told the committee that enforcing the state’s shoreland zoning ordinance is very time consuming, sometimes frustrating, and more importantly extremely expensive.


“L.D. 2101 would give Maine municipalities the teeth that we need to expedite enforcement actions and also would serve as a deterrent to prevent many violations from occurring in the first place,” Hanson added.

Hanson also testified that under current law, despite the unresolved violations and fines regarding Buteau’s property, his department had to issue a building permit for $1.9 million in renovations for Buteau’s 28 Whitetail Lane property this year. The property is one of two on the lake owned by Buteau and Management Controls.

But the bill is not solely focused on the Raymond case. Rebecca Graham, senior legislative advocate for the Maine Municipal Association, testified similar situations are happening all over the state.

Graham said it is bad actors who take the attitude that “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than get permission.” She said that while many property owners obey the laws, some choose to use legal resources to wear down municipalities when they are found to be in violation of shoreland zoning rules.

“This poses a significant burden on the financial health of municipalities that balance fiscal prudence for their taxpayers and their obligations to protect the water resources that belong to all Maine residents,” Graham testified.

“The normal legal budget line for a municipality is easily expanded when they are forced to battle an individual owner who refuses to remediate a violation, or pay fines and fees incurred sometimes repeatedly and knowingly,” Graham added.


The bill, co-sponsored by state Rep. Jessica Fay, D-Raymond, received overwhelming support in testimony before the committee and in submitted testimony.

One individual submitted her opposition and two organizations — Maine Woodland Owners and the Maine Forest Products Council — spoke against the bill in its current form, with both organizations stating the language of the bill is too broad.

Linda Haskell, chair of the Republican Party in Garland, submitted written opposition to L.D. 2101, calling it an overreach of state government. “The grabbing of properties from the property owners of the state of Maine is a terrible injustice. It ought not be passed,” Haskell wrote.

Karla Black, deputy executive director of Maine Woodland Owners, focused on two issues of concern — the revocation of permits and what constitutes a violation that would lead to a revocation or suspension of a permit.

In her testimony before the committee, Black asked, “Does this mean that if a landowner violates the shoreland zoning provision on one parcel of land that the municipality could suspend or revoke a permit that is granted to the same landowner that is completely unrelated to the shoreland zone violation?”

Black said that seems fundamentally unfair and unnecessary.


Asked by the Sun Journal if her organization would reconsider its position on the bill, she responded: “We are certainly open to having a conversation about whether the bill could be amended to address our concerns, but as drafted the bill presents serious fairness and legal questions.”

Black also expressed concerns about the appeal process as currently written. “Any amendments to the bill would need to address these fundamental questions of fairness.”

Patrick Stauch, executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council, also expressed concern about the ability to revoke a permit and a landowner’s ability to appeal any violation, arguing the way the bill is written the landowner could still be held responsible for any costs associated with the violation.

However, Stauch stated that a more “surgical” approach to the language could change his organization’s position on the bill.

Most of the individuals offering support for the bill are longtime or lifelong shorefront property owners, including one whose family traces its land ownership in Raymond and Casco back to 1770 and Capt. Joseph Dingley.

Organizations testifying in support of the L.D. 2101 include the 30 Mile River Watershed Association, Maine Land Use Planning Commission, Natural Resources Council of Maine, North Pond Association, Maine Lakes, Maine Audubon, Lake Environmental Association, Kennebunk Pond Association and the Kezar Lake Watershed Association.

A work session is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 1 p.m. and Nangle said he expects someone from the Attorney General’s Office to be at the work session.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story