ORONO — After repeated attempts to work with operators of The Grove to curb the kind of loud, raucous parties for which it has developed a reputation, town officials are cracking down.

And the management of Orono’s largest student housing complex is not pleased about it, Town Manager Sophie Wilson told town councilors Monday night during a committee meeting.

“The Grove has taken exception to our enforcement efforts. … They are very, very angry with the town,” Wilson said, warning councilors they might see some pushback.

A corporate spokesman could not be reached Monday night for comment.

On the night of Saturday, Sept. 6, police from as far as Hampden were called to The Grove to disperse a loud gathering attended by about 300 to 400 people, many of them University of Maine students.

Three people were arrested, and an Old Town police officer suffered a broken leg as a result of the melee, according to Orono police Chief Josh Ewing.


Last weekend, however, things were much quieter, Ewing said.

A special police detail comprising officers working overtime were at the complex’s gate last Thursday, Friday and Saturday night to make sure everyone trying to get into The Grove either lived there or was a guest, he said. Tenants were limited to no more than three visitors each, he said.

The party earlier this month was not the first of its kind. A similar party took place at the complex, which can house up to 620 students, when it opened in 2012.

To prevent a huge party at the start of classes last year, management of The Grove, owned by North Carolina-based Campus Crest Communities Inc., paid to have several Orono police officers patrol the private apartment complex the weekend before classes began.

After receiving complaints about potential code violations, town staff earlier this summer began a series of daily compliance checks. The inspections reportedly turned up a variety of violations, most of which allegedly had not been addressed after as long as a month.

The violations have resulted in between $28,000 and $650,000 in penalties, depending on whether the town stands to receive the $100 a day minimum or $2,500 a day maximum.


The violations included “inordinate” amounts of litter, as well as life safety code violations ranging from faulty fire alarm panels and broken and missing windows and screens to barbecue grills in enclosed hallways and a retention pond that was supposed to be secure but was left open to dogs that were using it to do their business, Wilson said.

In an effort to give the town some mechanisms for dealing the problems stemming from The Grove, Wilson and other municipal staff worked with the town’s legal counsel to come up with the strictest rules they believe the town can enforce.

The proposed rules call for steeper penalties for the owners of problem properties who do not take steps to comply with town ordinances.

Wilson said Monday the town is not just trying to recoup money it has spent; some elements of the proposed rules are intended to be punitive.

Town councilors received drafts of revised ordinances on disorderly property and on recovery of costs for police services at large events on private property.

Councilors will be reviewing the ordinance revisions in the weeks ahead, with the goal of getting them in place in time for the December party season, Wilson said.

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