2017-06-16 / Front Page

Arundel signs agreement on illegal pot shop

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — Marijuana may be legal now, but Arundel selectmen say that doesn’t necessarily mean, “Hallelujah, and pass the blunt.”

At their meeting on Monday, June 12, the board signed a consent agreement with resident William Stilphen over use of his 5-acre property at 31 Stilphen Way, where neighbors say he is growing as many as 160 marijuana plants. A second consent agreement also takes Stilphen to task for violating a conditional use permit granted in 2003 for his road contracting business Pave-Tek.

According to Town Manager Keith Trefethen, the violations were discovered by a neighbor who happened upon the property while searching for a lost dog.

“Otherwise, I don’t think anybody every would have known what was going on there,” he told selectmen.

Abutting landowner Stacy Gile, who lives on nearby Macchipkay Road, said she discovered the contracting violation when she was looking at her property on Google Earth and saw, in the clearing for Stilphen’s lot, a large fuel tanker truck.

“It truly was an accident that I ever saw that,” she said. “I was not looking for it.”

According to Stilphen’s 2003 permit, he may keep parked on his property no more that two dump truck with trailers at any one time, a condition made because the lot is within Arundel’s rural conservation zone. However, according to the agreement, Stilphen has had on side additional dump trucks, shipping containers, and a big rig semi trailer, in addition to the fuel delivery tanker and “various other pieces of equipment.”

“This has been an issue since 2003,” said Jeff Stolp, another Macchipkay Road neighbor. “He’s never complied with his permits. So, I don’t know what makes you think he’s going to now. He’s going to sign the agreement and then go right back to his ways doing what he wants.”

Gile claimed another neighbor captured video of a Stilphen employee using a hose to transfer gas from the fuel tanker to the dump trucks less than 24 hours after a notice of violation served April 13 by code enforcement officer Jim Nagle.

“Not even 24 hours and he was right back at it,” she told selectmen.

Gile, Stolp, and another neighbor, Lynn Howe, expressed concern before selectmen at the June 12 meeting that any fuel spills on Stilphen’s property could leach into the watershed, impacting their homes.

“When you have someone like Mr. Stilphen exercising poor judgment and really blatant disregard for the town of Arundel and property owners like us, for what we’ve built and established and are working for, that, to me, is unacceptable,” Howe said. “To have a 14-year history that’s a really slap in your face, o going well beyond his permits, to first set up an illegal oil business, and now an illegal marijuana cultivation operation, that just very frustrating to us to have all the risks to use based on him doing whatever he wants with his property and not really caring that there’s rules around these things.

“We just thank God nothing happened while that oil tanker was there. The reason the town has rules around these things is to protect all of us,” Howe said.

As part of the consent agreement, Stilphen agreed to pay the town an $840 fine, as well as $900 to cover the cost of the town attorney drawing up the consent agreement. He has to file by June 13 for a new Contractor Yard 2 permit more in line with actual use at the property, and meet all conditions of the new permit within 60 days.

Stilphen did present the town with a state license as a medical marijuana caregiver. However, officials say an operation on the scale he is conduction constitutes a production facility not allowed in the rural conservation zone.

The consent agreement, which carries an additional $840 fine and $900 in attorney fees, says the town will not prosecute for the illegal marijuana operation if Stilphen removes by July 31 all pot plants not used “exclusively” for his personal use, or as allowed under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act. Trefethen said this would limit Stilphen to no more than six flowering marijuana plants and 12 immature plants at any one time. Trefethen said Stilphen may let an unlimited number of family members and friends store the same number of plants, each, on his property — where he reportedly grows the marijuana under lights in a large barn. However, the agreement says Stilphen must produce written person for each individual plant owner.

At the motion of Selectman Dan Dubois, the consent agreement will be updated to include a provision to allow the town the right to conduct unannounced inspections of the property at any time. Selectman Tom Danylik, an attorney by trade, will draft the inspection language.

“He’s on the radar now, so to speak,” Danylik said.

Stilphen could not be reached Tuesday morning for comment.

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