Man arrested in Sumner road dispute

SUMNER — Just days after a Sun Journal story about the war over Abbott Pond Road, someone on one side was charged Wednesday with threatening someone on the other side with an ax.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Oxford County Sheriff's Sgt. Timothy Ontengco, left, and Deputy Michael Halacy arrest Benjamin Stewart who was charged with threatening Richard Pothier when he attempted to plow Abbott Pond Road in Sumner on Wednesday. The dispute stems from an argument between the Pothier family and Nicole Lutz, Stewart's mother, over who owns and has the right to use Abbott Pond Road.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Oxford County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Halacy places into the trunk of his squad car the weapon with which Benjamin Stewart is accused of threatening Richard Pothier on Wednesday on Abbott Pond Road in Sumner.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Oxford County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Halacy holds the weapon police say Benjamin Stewart used to threaten Richard Pothier on Wednesday on Abbott Pond Road in Sumner.

Benjamin Stewart, 26, the son of Nicole Lutz, was charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. Police say he threatened Richard Pothier with what appeared to be a homemade, medieval-style ax late Wednesday morning as Pothier tried to drive down Abbott Pond Road, a narrow dirt road at the center of a heated dispute between the Lutz and Pothier families.

Both Stewart and Pothier called the Oxford County Sheriff's Office about the incident. Stewart said Pothier was trespassing. Pothier said Stewart threatened him and tried to punch out the window of his truck with his arm.

Pothier said he reached for his gun and Stewart backed off.

Police interviewed Stewart at the home he shares with his mother and stepfather. They said he had the ax and was cooperative.

"He said he went out (to the road) to say he didn't want anybody in the right of way or the alleged right of way," Deputy Sullivan Rizzo said.

Pothier said he brought a witness and videotaped Wednesday's incident. Police said the video showed Stewart carrying an ax, but he wasn't waving it at Pothier or his truck.

Stewart, who is a member of a local group of Renaissance and Middle Ages re-enactors, was dressed in a gray, belted tunic and dark pants at the time of his arrest.

As of Wednesday afternoon, he was being held at the Oxford County Jail on $1,000 bail.

The Lutz and Pothier families have been fighting over Abbott Pond Road for about two years. The Lutz family, whose home fronts Redding Road and abuts Abbott Pond Road, says the old road is private, theirs and not open to the public. The Pothier family, which lives on Redding Road and owns a small pig and steer farm less than a quarter of a mile down Abbott Pond Road, says the road is public, or at least the public has the right to use it.

The war came to a head last October when Pothier's uncle, Ted Dawicki, used the road. Nicole Lutz's husband, Richard, stopped Dawicki and the two got into an argument. At some point, Richard Lutz threw a punch or two at Dawicki through his open truck window and Dawicki waved a handgun at him. The gun was loaded but was in a holster. 

During that incident, Stewart appeared in the yard with a 5-foot-long wooden staff.

Richard Lutz was charged with assault and Dawicki was charged with trespassing. Lutz received a deferred disposition, which means the assault charge goes away if he stays out of trouble for a year. The District Attorney's Office dropped Dawicki's trespassing charge, saying it had no idea who actually owns the road. 

On Tuesday, Pothier plowed Abbott Pond Road. Nicole Lutz said he went up and down the road five times and her husband eventually became frustrated and blocked the road with his vehicle. Pothier said he went up and down the road three times and Richard Lutz blocked it twice. Both sides called the police. 

No charges were filed and no official warnings were given, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The next morning, Pothier returned to plow again. Nicole Lutz wasn't home, but she said she spoke to her son over the phone and he told her Pothier had tried to run over him. Pothier denies that.

Again, both sides called the police.

Chief Deputy Hart Daley said Pothier wasn't charged with trespassing because the District Attorney's Office has already said it doesn't know who owns the road. Daley said a judge would have to rule on the road's ownership. 

"It's just a spider's web of civil issues when you're going to discuss property like that," he said. 

Stewart has a criminal history that includes  burglary in 2005, when he was 18. He was sentenced to two years in prison with all but 15 days suspended, given two years of probation and ordered to pay $755 in restitution.

ltice@sunjournal.com

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FRANK EARLEY's picture

Where I'm presently living.....

Where I'm presently living, We share the main part of the driveway with the building next door. It was a pretty simple deal way back when the neighboring building was built. There wasn't enough space to locate two separate driveways, so the new neighbors and who ever owned my building agreed to "deed in" the use of the single driveway for both buildings. This worked fine for about sixty or seventy years or so until the present owner bought the building next door. He was from Portland or something, and quite possessive. He's also not the most pleasant person in the world to deal with. He decided right off, that he and he alone owned the driveway and had the right to restrict who could and couldn't use it. Where he came up with this no one knows even to this day. My landlord had to eventually take him to court and prove to him,(have the judge tell him), that the two addresses shared the driveway and that it was stated so in the deed.
It was almost like this guy was deranged over the issue. I'm assuming something similar to this is happening in Sumner. It only takes one person's irrational delusions to get a good feud going. Some people just can't bend far enough to create harmony with their neighbors, or anyone else. These issues soon stop being the difference between right and wrong, it becomes me against the world. Unfortunately these types of people are not to easy to bargain with.....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

This situation has all the

This situation has all the makings of a homicide if someone with a clear head doesn't step up and do the right thing.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Judge would have to rule:

After much title work going back and reading old deeds, Lawyers making huge money while the person that is land locked, it this is the case. If that deed said they have the right to use a certain right of way. Back in the day the roads were town right of ways all roads came off from a property. Most of the time they ran along the boundary. But given our wet lands and good neighbors sometimes those roads moved a bit. But for those roads to be public, the town either has had to close/or discontinue that road. If that road was a town road at one time, or county road. Like the Annie Rd, in Minot now one end is huge freeway. The other the town closed/or discontinued. Took the right to use it away from the public. That being said, I can attest that $10,000.00 + reasons + that person that may have a deed that says they have the right to use it. That right should be protected by the Law enforcement until such time that the one family the Lutz family get a ruling by a judge. Problem is that a road in common is used in many cases. The common come into play whose common? If one owns land on the Abbott Pond Rd. that could be the common as for the public, that would be their public like the milk man or someone buying or picking up a cow or pig or what ever. You see the person living out front is the one that stirs the pot. They have road frontage and can not put their selves into the shoes of the guy that owns the land farther down that old road. I am speaking from personal knowledge here. having lived through a right of way dispute. Was hit by a car, and yes I could believe the guy may have used his car in that manner. In my case the man out front of my home. That we shared this drive with decided that our road, right of way was on his land. And sent us a letter that on a certain date he was going to pull a log across the right or way. We called the police or county. They said it was civil and they could not stop him from blocking that right-of-way. Now this was to get to my home the only access to the same. We had to find money to hire a lawyer and get a restraining order preventing him from blocking that right-of-way road in common. That is in my deed clearly. Now that guy out front can in the end have to pay all cost of the court in the end. But to actually get into court, good luck with that. The lawyers now both of us had them, with bleed them to death. In our case the guy that was to put the log across our drive finally came into our yard with his tail between his legs and said is there some way we can settle this, I don't know about you but I am tired of paying Lawyers. Well coming from the man that did not have to put this into action in the first place. We all worked out a settlement. Not that it is a total happy ending but they should sit down and get real. The guy with the land down that road should be able to get to his place. Period Settle this now. Save lots of money and stress.

Katrina  Pothier's picture

Why doesnt she get a legal

Why doesnt she get a legal land survey of her property? Why is the town saying this is civil matter when this road has never been declared private or other?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

If it hasn't been declared

If it hasn't been declared private, doesn't that add a certain level of credibility to the premise that it might be public?

Jason Theriault's picture

The problem

From what I have read, its that it is private land, but that it has been used as a road for like 30 years, so there is a legal rule saying at that point, it's open to the public, or something like that.

Again, from the story, it seems like there was no problem until something happened in the past couple of years, and everything went downhill.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

So much for the serenity

So much for the serenity aspects of rural living.

Katrina  Pothier's picture

Yes, Pothier's and others

Yes, Pothier's and others wanted to repair the hill and that is exactly when it started.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Doesn't sound like much of an

Doesn't sound like much of an issue worth going to war over.

Genise Knowlton's picture

Abbott Pond Road

Really!!! Come on children - solve the issue before someone gets killed and the other goes to jail for manslaughter or worse.....

Isn't there a real-estate deed that settles this issue once and for all - a title search appears to be in order!

Jason Theriault's picture

The solution

The city should just eminent domain the road, make it public, and be done with it.

Tony Morin's picture

I implore you to halt!

Or I shall smite you!!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

As in cross my moat and

As in cross my moat and you'll answer to my sword?

Ann Power's picture

Grow Up

Time to grow up and stop wasting the county money

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I've read the stories

I've read the stories relating to this situation. For the life of me. I can't begin to understand why people act like this. What happened initially to trigger such immature behavior? Who actually is feuding in all this anyway? Is it Mrs. Lutz and Mr. Pothier, is it Mr. Pothier and Mr. Stewart? Maybe it's Mr. Dawicki and the entire Lutz family, or Mr. Lutz and Mr. Pothier, with Mrs. Lutz and little Benjamin cheering them on.
Maybe the evidence will shed some light on this, first we have Mr. Lutz swinging a few punches thru the car window, I've tried that myself, it's not exactly easy, and Mr. Dawicki, with a holstered, loaded firearm. Then pulling up the rear, we have Mr. Stewart with a stick. It's uncertain which "Night's of the Round Table" Mr. Stewart was dressed up as this time. We have vehicles used to block the road, vehicles used to plow the road, and at least one vehicle used to try and run someone over.
There isn't any mention of how long each party has lived at their present locations, or if a single incident triggered this war. I can't imagine that short of a gold mine at the other end of the road, why these folks are even bothering each other over an old dirt road in the woods.
However this whole thing turns out, I hope it's before someone gets hurt. Unfortunately when a group of alleged adults, including one that likes to dress in tights and hoods and insists on protecting his "Kingdom" with medieval weaponry, I can only guess, we won't be hearing an end to this for a long time yet..........

AL PELLETIER's picture

Frank, rumor has it

The feud started over the ownership of a pig-------OOPS, that was the Hatfields and McCoys.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

Ahem

"Nicole Lutz, who has claimed the road as her own, thinks the relationship began to turn sour a couple of years ago when the Pothier family sold her a pig from their farm and, she believes, overcharged her."

From the first article a few days ago

Katrina  Pothier's picture

The first story was not an

The first story was not an accurate picture of what really had been taking place. Yes, she did buy a pig from the Pothier's but the following 2 years she continued to buy pigs and raised them for themselves, which there was a 2 dollar discrepinsy of the charge. This story has to do with Abbot Pond Road.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

Well, this is what she said

Well, this is what she said caused it. Either way, you guys need to reach some kind of truce.

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