OWLS HEAD — The Owls Head Select Board voted unanimously Thursday to authorize its attorney to pursue legal action against homeowners who may be in violation of floodplain regulations.

The Board voted 3-0 at its Sept. 22 meeting to have attorney Benjamin McCall initiate legal action in Maine District Court against the owners of 58 Crescent Beach Road.

The town’s former code enforcement officer Scott Bickford had issued a notice of violation to Swift and Stella Tarbell of Brookfield, Conn., alleging there were violations of the floodplain ordinance related to their home. The alleged violations relate to a deck that is one foot too low and within the floodplain, a cellar/vault below the floodplain, and a chimney in a floodplain.

The vote by the select board came after the town officials held a closed-door session with McCall.

FEMA has been encouraging the town to take action in connection to the alleged violations.

FEMA has been reviewing 13 properties for either potential violations, possible violations, or a need to review records to determine compliance.

Select board Chair Gordon Page said Sept. 22 that seven properties have been cleared by FEMA. Those properties that are cleared 26 Bellevue St., 31 Bellevue, 32 Bellevue, 33 Bellevue, 60 Holiday Beach Road, and two structures on 112 Crockett’s Beach Road.

Reviews on the other properties continue.

At stake is the possibility that the Federal Emergency Management Agency could remove Owls Head from the floodplain insurance program. If removed from the insurance program, private property owners in Owls Head would not be eligible for flood insurance through FEMA which is heavily subsidized and offered at a much lower cost than offered by private insurers, if it is even available.

By taking enforcement action, the town is showing the federal agency that it is following the regulations.

The Tarbells’ attorney Kristin Collins filed an appeal April 26 on behalf of the property owners to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

“There is long-established precedent in Maine that a town cannot bring an enforcement action against work that was performed in reliance on issued permits.  In this case, the Town issued a floodplain project for the home 15 years ago with full awareness of the building components with which FEMA has taken issue.  We feel confident that the case will be dismissed.  If FEMA is concerned about the Town’s compliance with permitting requirements, it should be focusing on training and oversight, and not taking action against innocent landowners who did everything they were required to,” Collins said Sept. 22 after the Board’s vote.

The status of that appeal is not immediately available.