CEO who stepped down in DEP, town crosshairs over lack of Shoreland oversight

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Former CEO Mike Beaulieu (Rochester Voice file photo)

LEBANON - A letter to selectmen from the state Department of Environmental Protection leveled sharp criticism against the town's former Code Enforcement Officer regarded to have taken a lackadaisical attitude to enforcing local and state ordinances for building near the shoreline, specifically along Sewell Shores Road.

Selectmen Chair Chip Harlow noted at least two violations along the shorefront road of Northeast Pond, including a prohibited septic tank and a tree house as well as another noted last month regarding a clearcut near a town stream.

Much of the blame was laid at the feet of recently resigned CEO Mike Beaulieu, who "should've known better," said Harlow, who added Beaulieu's lack of enforcement of ordinances he should've known were in effect has put the town in an uncomfortable position.

Buttressing his claim, Harlow produced a letter from the state DEP meant to jumpstart enforcement actions by the town against property owners found in violation of Shoreland Protection, even as Beaulieu - as an agent of the town - may be culpable.

"Although the department understands the lack of enforcement action appears tied to the inactions of one individual - the former CEO - rather than being the general attitude of the town government, the department considers this inaction to be a serious and significant matter and is requiring prompt action by the town," Harlow said, reading the letter for selectmen.

Beaulieu, who is also a Milton selectman, abruptly resigned his Lebanon CEO position on Sept. 18. He had been CEO here since June 2015.

It appears that what happened more than once is that property owners - including along Sewell Shores Road - were granted building permits without being apprised of Shoreland Zoning laws.

Harlow said in some cases there was no application for Shoreland Building permits on file.

Selectperson Laura Bragg questioned whether it was the property owner's responsibility to know Shoreland Zoning.

Harlow said while he has some sympathy with property owners, they bear some responsibility in knowing the laws, adding that Shoreland Zoning has been on the books for decades.

In the case of the prohibited septic tank, he said the owner continued to pour concrete after a stop order was initiated.

Harlow said the letter from DEP warned of action against the town if nothing is done.

"I'm going to keep this PG," Harlow added. "We're in deep doo-doo with DEP."

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