An excavator works in October 2021 on shoreland at 18 Fernwood Road on Sebago Lake Raymond. Town of Raymond photo

AUGUSTA — A bill to strengthen enforcement capabilities of the state’s Shoreland Zoning Ordinance has passed initial votes in both houses and is on track to be sent to Gov. Janet Mills’ desk for review.

The House passed an amended bill — LD 2101 —Wednesday in a roll call vote of 107-36. It was introduced by Sen. Tim Nangle, a Democrat from Windham, whose district includes Raymond. It was his constituents in Raymond who asked for his help last summer when the town was locked in a legal battle with Auburn businessman Donald Buteau and his real estate holding company, Management Controls.

“I’m thrilled that the legislation I sponsored passed with strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate,” Nangle said shortly after the vote. “This bill is about protecting our environment and gives cities and towns tools to quickly resolve shoreland zoning violations and ensure that the cost of compliance doesn’t fall on the taxpayers.”

The lakefront property at 18 Fernwood Road on Sebago Lake in Raymond, Sept. 14, 2022, is one of two at the center of a shoreland zoning ordinance violations case, which has now been settled. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The Sebago Lake property at 18 Fernwood Road in Raymond is seen in August 2021 before shoreland changes were made to owner Donald Buteau’s property. Town of Raymond photo

In December 2021, the town cited Buteau and Management Controls for 15 violations of the shoreland zoning ordinance and unpermitted work at the lakefront on adjoining properties on Sebago Lake, 18 Fernwood Road and 28 Whitetail Lane. The case was tied up in appeals for nearly two years, at a cost to Raymond of between $300,000 and $400,000 in legal fees.

Earlier this month, the town and Buteau agreed to settle the case, the full details of which are to be revealed at a Select Board meeting April 4. The settlement involves paying the town’s attorney fees, a fine and restoration of the lakefront. Specifics of the settlement, including the amount of the fine and the cost of restoration are being withheld until next week’s meeting.

The amended bill authorizes, but does not require, municipalities and the Maine Land Use Planning Commission to deny, suspend or revoke a permit of the land owner or occupant from further development on all or a part of the land on which the violation occurred, until it is removed, abated or otherwise corrected and any penalties and court-ordered fees are paid.

It also allows the municipality and the commission to place a lien on the land on which the violation occurred and the ability to file civil action against the owner or occupant to recover unpaid penalties, restoration costs and reasonable attorney fees. The amendment requires owners who sell property to disclose any actual or alleged shoreland zoning violations on their real estate disclosure form. It also requires the municipality to provide written notice of the violations to the owner or occupant and 10 days for them to correct the violation.

If signed by the governor, the bill could become law in 90 days.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection also cited Buteau and his primary contractor, Robert Durant, for violations of the Maine Natural Resources Protection Act and earlier this month confirmed that “enforcement action is still pending.”

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