China appeals board agrees with CEO French’s ruling

by Mary Grow

The China Board of Appeals met Friday afternoon, March 10, to hear an appeal of a building permit issued by codes enforcement officer Nicholas French. Board members upheld French’s decision.

The permit was issued on Jan. 9, 2023, to Wayne Paul, Jr. It was appealed by Baiba Bangerskis (for whom her husband, Gundars “Gus” Bangerskis spoke), Raymond Malley and Susan Malley (identified as the widow of James R. Malley), residents of the Yarmouth, Massachusetts, area.

The appeal documents correctly identify French as assistant codes officer and Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood as codes officer. Hapgood holds the title while French completes courses needed for certification (he is almost done); French has been doing the job, and his signature is on Paul’s permit.

After appeals board chairman Spencer Aitel established the board’s authority to hear the appeal, the appellants, appearing virtually, explained the situation, with Bangerskis taking the lead.

They explained that two pieces of land on the east side of Three Mile Pond are involved. One piece is owned jointly by Baiba Bangerskis, two Malleys and Paul. Joint ownership, Gus Bangerskis said, means each party has a one-fourth interest in all of the parcel; none claims a specific piece of it.

Riga Road, formerly Fire Road 71, runs through this lot from Route 32 South to the lake, where several people have homes or seasonal homes. The lakeshore residents have a right-of-way over Riga Road to their properties; Bangerskis said neither Paul nor the other three landowners have a right of way.

Paul also owns and plans to build on the next parcel north, between Riga Road and Fire Road 70. Whether Riga Road touches that lot was part of the debate. Paul said it does; the appellants questioned the accuracy of the old survey on which Paul relied.

Bangerskis also said a deed clause that French cited in correspondence with the appellants was misinterpreted; it does not give Paul a right of way over Riga Road.

The appellants therefore argued that because Paul does not have a right of way over Riga Road, he cannot use it to access his property – they referred to use by trucks delivering lumber and cement trucks – and therefore should not have been granted a building permit.

His only access, they suggested, is by water, from the public landing on Three Mile Pond.

Aitel then asked French why he issued the permit.

French replied that he had no ground on which to deny it.

China’s ordinance does not require a building permit applicant to have road frontage, access or a street address. The requirements are a map and lot number and proof of right, title or interest; Paul provided them.

“How he actually gets to this parcel has nothing to do with me,” French said.

After Aitel gave the two parties a chance to question each other, he asked board members’ opinions. Agreement was quick and unanimous: French’s action was correct.

The access issue may be a problem for the landowner, Robert Fischer said, but it is irrelevant to the codes officer’s decision.

French “did what he is authorized to do,” Stephen Greene said. He suggested other issues between Paul and the appellants should be worked out among them or submitted to a court of law.

The vote on a motion that the codes officer acted correctly in issuing the building permit was 5-0-1, with Fischer, Greene, Michael Gee, Lisa Kane and Alan Pelletier voting yes and Aitel abstaining, as he habitually does when his vote is not essential.

Aitel reminded the appellants that they have the right to appeal the Board of Appeals decision to court.


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