Vassalboro board rejects request for reconsideration

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Board of Appeals members have refused to reconsider their May 22 rejection of Jonathan Blumberg’s appeal of Codes Officer Richard Dolby’s permit issued in March to Bernard Welch.

In May, three board of appeals members unanimously agreed Blumberg’s procedural and substantive objections to Dolby’s action were without merit. They told Blumberg he could request that the board reconsider, or appeal the board’s action to Superior Court.

Blumberg chose to request a reconsideration. Vassalboro’s ordinance says in that case, “A demonstration must be made by the applicant [Blumberg] that substantial new evidence has been brought before the board or an error or mistake of law or misunderstanding of fact has been made.”

At the board’s June 20 discussion on the reconsideration request, Blumberg presented two procedural issues, claiming he had not received formal notice of the May 22 decision nor timely notice of the June 20 meeting.

Board members and Dolby said the May 22 decision was not final until board members approved the meeting minutes. They took that action at the end of the June 20 meeting. They dismissed Blumberg’s claim that he did not know on what basis they had acted, reminding him that he was present for the entire meeting May 22.

The June 20 meeting had been publicized as required by the ordinance, to abutters and in the newspaper. When Blumberg said he did not read the newspaper, Dolby replied that was not the town’s fault.

Earlier in June, Blumberg sent the board three pages of items he claimed were “discovery after the fact,” not considered at the May 22 meeting. Board member Gary Coull said he found no new evidence in the presentation.

Blumberg claimed he had additional evidence that he had not had time to organize, “mostly stuff that I printed off the web” plus applicable laws. Board members believed he should have had his evidence ready for June 20.

Board Chairman John Reuthe made it clear he was losing patience with Blumberg’s repeated challenges to Dolby’s actions affecting Welch’s property. “What do you really want? Do you want them [the Welches] to leave town?” he demanded. “I would like to live peacefully and safely on my property. I would like my neighbors to obey the rules,” Blumberg replied.

Board members were not convinced that Welch is violating town ordinances. If some part of his farming operation, or the bed and breakfast Blumberg claims Welch runs, needs additional state permits, the local board of appeals has no jurisdiction, Dolby said.

Board members unanimously approved Lee Duff’s motion that no new evidence was presented and the board had nothing to consider. They advised Blumberg that his next recourse was an appeal to Superior Court.

 
 

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