Barriers, boundaries, bids are highlights in Owls Head

By Beth A. Birmingham | Apr 21, 2017
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Lewis Edwards, right, makes his case to Owls Head Selectmen Dave Matthews, left, and Linda Post April 18 that something needs to be done about the way snow is plowed on Cooper's Beach Road.

Owls Head — The Owls Head Board of Selectmen awarded the salt bid for 2017-2018, discussed a boundary line issue, and heard from a citizen regarding a public easement concern April 18.

The board received four bids to supply the town's 2017-2018 salt, with Morton Salt being awarded the contract at a rate of $58.39 per ton. Bids ranged from that amount to nearly $80 per ton.

Two sand bids were received, but the item was tabled, as Jake Barbour of Jake Barbour Inc. was present and acknowledged he had overlooked the bid deadline. JBI was awarded the contract last year at $11.50 per yard with 750 yards budgeted and only 350 being brought to the sand/salt shed.

Barbour said there was still 400 yards that was budgeted and available to the town and that he would extend the price for this year's contract.

The board voted to table the item until exact numbers of what was available and how much might be needed for next year are arrived at.

A review of the boundary lines of the former Ship to Shore Lobster Co. revealed a wooden platform actually exists on town property, according to Richard Carver, who is a current Town Council member and member of the Harbor Committee.

Board Chairman Tom Von Malder said the town has been working on getting an access lease for up to two years with the new owners, Forum Capital Seafood LLC, who purchased the property in February. He said this would cover the period between the present and when the town eventually plans on building its own pier in the area.

The prior 50-year lease with the former owners expired in December 2016.

Right now a hand-painted sign warns that there is no public access to the wharf at the end of the pier until further notice.

Selectman Dave Matthews said he has drawn up a proposed agreement, but will have town attorney Fred Newcomb review it prior to submitting it to the owners, who have indicated a willingness to work with the town, according to Von Malder.

Lewis Edwards, property owner on Cooper's Beach Road, asked the board to get involved with a public easement concern.

Edwards has threatened to take JBI to court for property damages if it does not pay a requested $800, according to Barbour. JBI does the town's plowing in the winter.

In question are three wooden barriers Edwards has in place at the very edge of his cottage, one of which was damaged, Edwards said, by a Barbour plow. "They are there to keep the plow driver from cutting the corner and wiping out those flower beds," he said.

Edwards said he does not want to see the issue go to court, but if that is what is necessary to get what he feels should be enforced, enforced, that is what he will do.

Matthews acknowledged that the board was aware of the issues. He said the public easement roads have a representative who is in charge of letting residents know the particulars of where things can be placed with regard to the ordinances.

"I think the ordinances are pretty clear," Matthews said.

"That's to be eligible for plowing," Edwards said. "In other words, if you don't meet those, you are ineligible for plowing."

He further stated plowing of public easement roads is voluntary. The town does not have the obligation to plow and the residents do not have to allow plowing to occur.

"As a property owner, we are entitled to protect our property," he added.

Matthews proposed to look into the matter and come up with a solution by meeting with those involved.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at

One of three wooden barriers shows signs of damage at this residence on Cooper's Beach Road in Owls Head. Owner Lewis Edwards is seeking compensation from JBI, which does the plowing for the town. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Town Council member Richard Carver, left, shows where the boundary lines are for the property now owned by Forum Capital Seafood LLC in Owls Head. Looking on are, from left, Select Board Chairman Tom Von Malder, Dave Matthews and Linda Post. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
A hand-painted sign warns there is no public access to the former Ship to Shore wharf until a legal access is agreed upon between the new owners and the town of Owls Head. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Comments (2)
Posted by: Lewis M. Edwards | Apr 22, 2017 07:39

Selectmen Matthews is incorrect in his assertion that town "ordinance" governs the matter of the post placement.

An advisory warrant article from 1986 makes the matter abundantly clear:  that to be "eligible for town-provided snowplowing and sanding" on privately-owned public easement roads (which are not the same as normal town roads) brush along both sides must be cut back at least three feet and there must be no obstructions that will interfere with snow removal.

This warrant article does not force a waiver of damage claims upon the owners of property on either side of such a public easement road.  It simply sets out a number of conditions which must be met if the town is to provide (as a non-obligatory favor) snowplowing and sanding services.  If you cannot meet them, you are not necessarily provided with the services.

If JBI subjectively believes that those posts interfere with his ability to snowplow without property damage, he should simply refuse to plow that area.

Posted by: Lewis M. Edwards | Apr 22, 2017 07:20

The property damage by the JBI plows back on January 8th involved more than one post out of the four that were originally present in that location.

One post on the right side of the end of the cottage walkway was snapped off completely - missing in the photograph.   The vinyl wrap of another post was broken apart - clearly visible in the photograph.   Two solar lights atop the posts that illuminate the walkway to the cottage were knocked off and shattered, as was another solar light at the property entrance.

Although not evident in the photograph, there was plenty of room for the snowplow to swing wide and not cut the corner short.  At the time of the damage, there were only a few inches of snow on the ground and the posts are marked with reflective tape.

JBI was given an option to either repair the damage or to compensate for the damage monetarily.  To date, JBI has chosen to do neither, but has taken the ill-advised position that the posts need to be moved back - exposing the cottage flower beds and walkway to further private property damage.

The posts were installed in the spring of last year after enduring previous seasons of damage when the plows cut that corner short.

If you wish to comment, please login.