York neighbors blast town’s enforcement in a dispute over lawn care business

By Erin Hayes, yorkweekly@seacoastonline.com

Posted Jan 21, 2020 at 5:08 PM

Updated Jan 21, 2020 at 5:08 PM

YORK -- Neighbors who have fought the town for more than five years over a parcel of land owned by Joshua Gammon are accusing local officials of negligent enforcement, as they wait for the Maine Supreme Court to resolve their dispute.

Those who own property in the area of 650 York St. oppose the scale of Gammon’s lawn care and plowing business operations at the site, saying such activity does not fit the neighborhood’s character.

“Mr. Gammon owns a marketable residential lot in the beautiful York Harbor area,” said neighbor Dan Raposa. “Why the selectmen allow the industrial use to continue lacking this deed transfer remains a mystery.”

Dan and Susan Raposa filed suit against Gammon and the town. Their case is expected to be scheduled soon for argument before the state’s highest court.

Although the town’s Board of Appeals ruled in July 2016 that Gammon’s use of the property violated local regulations, the board reversed itself in August 2016, ruling Gammon’s lot was grandfathered so he could continue using it for his lawn care and plowing operations.

Superior Court Judge John O’Neil ruled last August that the York BOA was correct in determining Gammon’s property qualified for grandfathered status. That’s the decision the Raposas appealed to the state’s Supreme Court, hoping to restore the BOA’s July 2016 ruling.

Gammon referred questions to his attorney, Matt Howell, who expressed confidence in his client’s position.

“The poor guy is just trying to make a living for his family,” Howell said.

The state Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments within the next few months, Howell said.

York Town Manager Steve Burns declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

Neighbors argue there were multiple times when the town lapsed in its enforcement of permitting and building codes on the site. The latest instance was a salt shed Gammon built, allegedly larger than dimensions allowed by a permit issued by Code Enforcement Officer Amber Harrison. Neighbors said they alerted Harrison to the shed’s size.

Burns said during a Board of Selectmen’s meeting last week that he understands Harrison issued a 30-day notice for Gammon to bring the salt shed into compliance.

In a statement, Dan Raposa said he was pleased to hear Harrison would require Gammon to bring his salt shed into compliance with the permit dimensions.

“I am certain I speak for our entire neighborhood that our hope is Amber shall suspend the use of salt storage until the structural changes are made,” Raposa said.

Raposa contends that, in a lengthy string of circumstances, “the town has been negligent and refuses to hear our concerns and enforce the laws.”

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