Slow progress on a Lincolnville cleanup project led to quick tempers at Monday’s county commission meeting.
Gavin Shields, who has stored cars, tires, equipment, and such on a lot at the south edge of Lincolnville since he closed his repair shop last year, and tangled with the planning and zoning commission since, was at the meeting to report how he’s doing with cleaning up the premises.
Commissioner Dianne Novak told Shields the issue is serious, the commission has been patient, and she’d like to see the work done. Novak said she’s been getting calls from his neighbors.
Shields raised his voice in response, saying neighbors “sit on their porch and enjoy watching me work.”
Commissioner chair Randy Dallke said he went to look at the property after Shields’ last appearance at commission meeting and saw that scrap metal wasn’t on racks as Shields had said it was.
“I do not like liars,” Dallke said hotly.
“I don’t like being called a liar!” Shields answered, leaning forward in his chair.
Commissioner Lori Lalouette calmed the waters a bit by saying the county needs to do more research on what it can insist Shields do.
“There’s a lot of questions,” Lalouette said. “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”
Still appearing angry, Dallke told Shields, “I don’t like people who lie.”
“I did not lie; I may have misspoke, but I did not lie,” Shields answered.
Commissioners earlier told Shields to have the items removed from the property by mid-December, then extended the deadline to July 31.
Dallke was in favor of sticking to the deadline, but Lalouette and Novak were in favor of doing more research before further action is taken.
“I sure don’t want to be picked on all the time,” Shields told commissioners. “When I ran it as a salvage yard, it was clean and neat. Nobody knew what was going on.”
In September, however, Shields denied running a salvage yard at the location.
“This is not a salvage yard, it was never a salvage yard, and I never applied for a salvage yard,” he said at that time. “I was forced by the county to apply for this description. It’s basically a storage yard. The use of this land and the activity in the past month has been zero. There is no salvage operation and there never will be.”
Shields said he’s gotten another property in Morris County, but has not been approved to use the property there.
“I’m still applying for a permit,” Shields said. “The cleanup is still in progress.”
Shields said getting cars removed from the property would take six months and removing the rest would take longer.
Planning and zoning director Emma Tajchman told commissioners tires on the property can create health risks because of standing water.