HANOVER — The Board of Selectmen said Tuesday evening that a controversial chunk of granite in front of a local couple’s home could neither be removed nor destroyed until the ownership of the land that the granite rests on is established.

Homeowners Glen and Suzanne LaForest, who live in Utah, own a log cabin on the shore of Howard Pond, and in front of their home is a 12- by 17-foot chunk of granite.

The LaForests said the boulder is too close to their garage and is a hazard to people driving by.

In 2011, the Board of Selectmen disagreed, and voted 2-1 to ban the couple from moving the rock.

Suzanne LaForest said Tuesday that she had scheduled a contractor to start removing the rock on Tuesday morning, but her neighbor, Pam Puiia, parked her car in front of the boulder and other neighbors started walking by the boulder too close for the contractor to work.

Selectman Frank Morrison Jr. said that he met with town attorney Jennifer Kreckel and the LaForests’ attorney Tuesday afternoon to “review several documents.”

“The ownership of the road is in dispute,” Morrison said to the residents at Tuesday evening’s meeting. “There’s been a question about who owns that particular road that’s in dispute. There are deeds that have been passed down through the present owner’s attorney, and the attorneys are working at that.”

Morrison added, “The only way the rock can be removed is by obtaining a Shoreland Zoning Ordinance permit, since the rock is over 10 cubic yards and is within the town’s Shoreland Zoning area.

“One of the requirements for obtaining the permit is establishing the ownership of the land upon which the boulder stands, which has not been established by the homeowners,” Morrison said. “Right now, that’s it. Nothing else can be done until the ownership of the land is established.”

Morrison clarified that even if the LaForests were to prove ownership, they would have to go through the Planning Board to obtain a permit before doing anything with the rock.

“However, until the dispute is settled, nothing is being done,” Morrison reiterated. “Our attorney and their attorney are going through the information right now, and until this is settled, we have to wait.”

Selectman Richard Stratton said the excavating equipment had been moved from the LaForests’ property as of Tuesday afternoon.

Stratton later asked Morrison, “Do we feel that this is sufficient enough notice to the homeowners? Are we sure that they know they can’t remove the rock or destroy it until the ownership of the land is determined?”

Morrison replied that the LaForests’ attorney has been notified that the rock can’t be removed.

“Everything has to take place between the attorneys right now,” Morrison said.

Puiia said, “My question is this: When the LaForests hire another contractor to come and do the job, who’s going to stop them?”

Morrison said the LaForests “don’t have ownership until they can prove they have ownership.”

“Yes, but are they going to claim ignorance next week?” Puiia said. “If we weren’t there this morning, that rock would be gone. Do I have to stand there every day with my cup of coffee and wait for a police officer to come and arrest me?”

Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Brenda Lee Gross said, “We’re all hoping that the homeowners are going to go along with this in good faith, and that they will prove the land is theirs first before doing anything with the rock. I’m certain that they know what’s going on right now.”

Morrison added that if the homeowners decided to move forward with removing the rock, despite the fact that they have to wait until ownership has been established, “we would immediately contact our town attorney, who would file a formal injunction to stop the process.”

He said, “That’s really all we can do. If something is happening with the rock, and we can’t contact her in time, residents can contact the town, and we’ll make sure the code enforcement officer is informed and puts a stop to it.”

The LaForests were not at Tuesday evening’s meeting.

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