WOOLWICH (AP) – Growing concerns about appearances and a rising number of more affluent residents who are less tolerant of roadside junk shops may spell the end for a business featured in a book about the oddities of Maine.

Dot’s Good Deals on U.S. Route 1 at the end of the Sagadahoc Bridge is the place to go for deals from 10 cents to $10 on used kitchen sinks, stools, stoves, mattresses, doors, windows and more.

Dorothy Schmidt has sold used goods since 1980. Now Woolwich officials have ordered her to clean up or shut down, saying she is violating land use laws by not having a permit to run a junkyard.

“We don’t have any intention of making life hard for Dot. We just want her to clean up the mess,” said David King, chairman of Woolwich’s Board of Selectmen. “It’s not the most attractive thing for people to see when they come into town. All they see is this pile of rubble. That’s our Main Street and the gateway to our town.”

Town officials in June gave Schmidt 10 days to clean up a pile of broken glass and appliances piled against her barn after receiving complaints from motorists and local residents.

The threat of legal action led to some progress, but Schmidt said poor health has prevented her from completely cleaning up her business.

“I haven’t been able to keep up. They just don’t understand,” Schmidt said. “I don’t know what their rush is. Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

She said she planned to blacktop the yard and have it landscaped.

“In my opinion, it’s still a junkyard but it is starting to look better,” Woolwich’s Code Enforcement Officer Bill Longley Jr. said.

Conflicts between municipal officials and junk dealers are likely to continue as property values rise and people from elsewhere move to Maine’s towns, Georgetown selectman Jim McGowan said. He has been working with Alvin Moore, whose collection of junk cars and paraphernalia has generated similar complaints.

“As the demand for high value property continues to increase I think it will be important to keep a balance between what has been and the desires of new residents,” McGowan said. “At some point the lobsterman who keeps his traps in his front yard will stop being quaint.”

Humorist Tim Sample interviewed Schmidt for his book, “Maine Oddities, Curiosities and Roadside Attractions.” He said such used-goods shops are a reflection of Mainers’ thriftiness.

“In Maine, there is a deeply ingrained sense that you can always get a little more use out of something. That sense encourages places like Dot’s,” Sample said. “But as the world changes around us, a lot of these places come to be perceived as eyesores.”



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