LIVERMORE — The town’s attorney has sent a letter to a logger the town claims owes it more than $40,000 for expenses related to a timber trespass on Memorial Forest last spring.
Town officials have said repeatedly that they wanted to be fair and reasonable about the reimbursement they believe John Korhonen owes to the town.
They have requested $40,690, not including attorney fees, according to the attorney’s letter.
Attorney Michael A. Hodgins of Bernstein Shur also sent the letter to Korhonen’s insurance carrier, Acadia Insurance, to pursue collection of trespass damages.
Korhonen, of Jay, is accused of cutting more than 10 acres of wood on the town’s property without permission. He has turned the matter over to his insurance company, Korhonen said Thursday.
Korhonen’s insurance company is conducting its own investigation into the extent of the town’s claim, Livermore administrative assistant Kurt Schaub said Thursday.
Korhonen said he walked the area with a surveyor Thursday morning.
All correspondence and inquiries on this matter are now being funneled through the town’s attorney and legal fees have been added to the town’s claim, Schaub said.
The town had previously sent three letters to Korhonen on the timber matter in 2012. One in December asked that the money be paid by Jan. 14. When it was not, selectpersons voted to turn the issue over to its lawyer and the Maine Forest Service.
According to Hodgins’ letter, state statute defines timber trespass as “one who intentionally, negligently or without fault cuts down and removes trees on the property of another party will be held liable for damages as permitted by statute.”
“With respect to the liability portion of this claim, your trespass on the town’s property is clear,” Hodgins wrote. “Your deed clearly states that your easterly boundary along the Old Mud Road runs a distance of 28 rods, or approximately 462 feet. Your cutting in the area of the road alone stretched over 1,000 feet, so you could not reasonably have expected the cutting in this area to remain within the boundaries of your lot,” Hodgins wrote.
The letter also states that the town’s survey of the northerly boundary confirmed that Korhonen’s cutting encroached on town property. The northerly boundary is clearly marked with a 1¼-inch pipe in stones at the westerly boundary and with a 1¼-inch pipe at the easterly boundary.
“Between those pins is visible evidence of an old blazed boundary line, so the northerly boundary of the town’s property should have been clear to someone exercising reasonable care,” Hodgins wrote.
The letter also said that when Korhonen went to the town office before cutting to inquire about boundaries, he was told that the tax maps were not reliable in that area. He also inquired about acquiring the Memorial Forest property, Hodgins wrote.
Under the timber trespass statute, a person who negligently or without fault cuts trees on the land of another is liable to the owner for two times the owner’s damages, he wrote.
If a party is found to have intentionally or knowingly cut the trees on the land of another, that person is liable for three times the owner’s damages.
Give the facts, Hodgins said outlined in the letter, he wrote that “you were clearly negligent in your cutting, and a finding of intentional or knowing cutting on the land of the town would be a reasonable conclusion, depending on how the facts of this case develops.”
The town has had the value of the timber cut assessed by a licensed Maine forester, which resulted in a stump count of 1,641 trees, with an estimated species value of $36,219.36.
After rounding that figure down, the likely damage total due to the town, if this matter goes to court, could be between $72,400 to $108,600.
An alternate way of measuring damages by virtue of the sale value of the timber would increase the amount owed to the town to between $230,000 to $345,000, according to the letter.
The town has demanded $40,690 without factoring in attorneys fees, and reserves the right to request the maximum penalty for this trespass if the matter proceeds to court, he wrote.