SUMNER – A selectman looking to expand his mobile-home park violated a local ordinance when he installed a septic system on the property without approval from the Planning Board, according to the Planning Board chairman.

But Selectman Clifford S. McNeil, the property owner, said that is simply not true.

McNeil, who has been a selectman in Sumner for about eight years, said he installed a leach bed on the property last fall as an investment.

“I chose to make an investment in my property for future use,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t believe I’ve broken any laws.”

On Tuesday, Planning Board Chairman Gerald Farrar said McNeil installed a septic system on the 15 acres he owns on McNeil Road off Route 140 before obtaining necessary approvals from the board.

There are three mobile homes on the property. McNeil wants to add two more this spring and possibly add up to 20 over the next decade. He formally approached the Planning Board in December about an expansion and filed a site plan review application.

By law, McNeil must work with the Planning Board before the state will consider an expansion license. However McNeil said Planning Board members have made comments that they don’t want a mobile-home park in Sumner.

“I don’t see that facts and figures are what’s being looked at,” McNeil said. “My feeling is, this shouldn’t be the issue that it’s being made out to be.

“This is a simple little project,” he said.

However Farrar said board members would not oppose a project based on their personal opinions of mobile-home parks. Rather, McNeil’s actions when he installed a septic system set a bad precedent, he said.

“He started off on the wrong foot,” said Farrar, charging that McNeil violated a building ordinance. “He put in a septic system before we even knew anything about it.”

Farrar said there are also residents who are opposed to an expansion of the mobile-home park.

McNeil said a permit was issued to install the leach bed by Sumner’s plumbing inspector, who then decided to have the finished leach bed inspected by a plumbing inspector from a nearby town to avoid any potential conflict of interest.

McNeil said he also has been working on his property for many years. “Over the years I’ve been doing reshaping and remodeling of my property,” he said. “I don’t feel that I’m breaking any laws by reshaping sandbanks.”

McNeil said he plans to file a revised layout plan with the Planning Board later this month. The current plan shows six dwellings inside shoreland zoning; a state Department of Environmental Protection official advised McNeil that only five would be permitted. McNeil said he invites code enforcement officers from other towns to oversee the project and ensure that all building codes are adhered to, while avoiding a conflict of interest since code enforcement officers are appointed by the selectmen.

“I would have no problem with one or two CEOs from surrounding towns getting involved,” he said. “Ultimately, my desire is to do everything aboveboard.”



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