OXFORD — A Paris resident whose camp on a Thompson Lake island was destroyed last year appeared before Oxford’s Board of Selectmen, requesting that the town reimburse her for $9,600 in legal fees after her planning board application became a tug-of-war between Oxford’s Code Enforcement Officer Kingston Brown and Planning Board Chair Keith Morris.

With three of Oxford’s five selectmen attending the May 18 meeting, Board Chair Sharon Jackson, Board Vice-Chair Dana Dillingham and Selectmen Floyd Thayer voted to refuse Amelia Dow’s request, citing that even with the toxic behavior she experienced from the planning board that it did not take an unreasonable amount of time for her application to be reviewed and ultimately approved.

Jackson apologized to Dow for the treatment she had received while also noting that the selectmen who were not present, Scott Hunter and Caldwell Jackson, had expressed consensus with the rest of the board to not pay her expenses.

The three selectmen in attendance uniformly stated that Dow had hired legal counsel at her own bequest; therefore, it was her responsibility.

Additionally, the town had incurred its own legal expense of about $3,500 because of the issue.

Dow reiterated to selectmen that she did not hire a lawyer because the process was taking too long, but rather because of hostile treatment of it by Moore. She also pointed out that despite the application being contested by Moore that in the end the planning board approved it with no revision.


Dow’s family cabin had been flattened on December 24, 2022 by a microburst occurring during a winter storm.

Amelia Dow’s Thompson Lake property was damaged, and the dwelling flattened, when a winter storm ‘microburst’ laid out more than two dozen mature pine trees last winter. Supplied photo

Informed by her insurer that the only way a rebuilt camp would be insured in the future required placing it on a foundation, Dow reached out to Brown about how to proceed.

With the property being part of Oxford’s shore land zone, Dow was required to have the town’s planning board review her application. She consulted with Brown, adjusting plans four times before finalizing the application according to his recommendations.

Dow’s husband Michael Rockenstire appeared before the planning board on Feb. 23. During the meeting, Morris questioned whether the cabin could be rebuilt on its original footprint or should be built beyond the 100-foot setback required for new construction.

Working with Brown, Dow and Rockenstire said they had determined that it would be less disruptive to the shoreland to build on the same spot.

To build elsewhere on the property would require removal of the existing septic system, as well as cutting more trees and excavating a large undisturbed area, and taking down additional trees to accommodate Central Maine Power moving electricity access for their camp and at least one other property owner, they said.


Kingston informed planning board members that according to Maine shore land zoning law, locating the cabin within contemporary setbacks would be impracticable; it was his recommendation that it be rebuilt without causing further disruption to the land.

Dow watched the meeting on YouTube, and said she was was taken aback by Morris’ behavior during Rockenstire’s presentation at meeting, which she described as unprofessional and disrespectful toward Brown.

“It was clear that our application was in danger of getting a fair review,” Dow told the Advertiser Democrat. “The chair’s behavior was undermining the impartiality of the process.”

The application was tabled until the planning board could hold a site inspection, which was scheduled for March 4.

But Moore and Brown’s conflict continued beyond the meeting into email exchanges that included professional and personal attacks.

Fearing the application would be rejected because of the personal rancor between the Oxford officials, Dow said she sought legal counsel to ensure that her property rights were not violated.


Her lawyer participated in the site inspection and witnessed the ongoing quarrel, even intervening to keep focus on the business at hand, she said.

It was not until March 6 that the conflict between Moore and Brown was brought to the attention of Town Manager Adam Garland, who confirmed to the Advertiser Democrat that he then dealt with the matter as a personnel issue.

On March 13 Dow came to the property to meet with CMP representatives, where she said she found Moore trespassing with an assistant, preparing to survey it using his own equipment.

Following that exchange, Dow contacted Garland to complain. When Garland relayed that Moore had agreed to recuse himself from her application process she and Rockenstire resolved to focus on moving forward; they did not report Moore for trespassing.

But prior to the meeting where the application was to be voted on by the rest of the board, Dow was informed that Moore did plan on attending and participating in discussion.

Hearing that, Dow once again brought her lawyer to attend the meeting, which was scheduled for March 9 but postponed until April 13. During that meeting Dow’s application was approved.


“The Planning Board is a citizen’s volunteer board,” Dow said in a written statement to the newspaper. “The Planning Board does not have an organizational charter that provides for process, meeting order, code of conduct or code of ethics. No one is overseeing the Board members to makes sure they stay in-bounds.

“That said, in most towns, the CEO serves as a resource and mentor to citizen boards, including planning boards, to help educate and inform them on planning and zoning matters, and provide guidance on process.”

Moore said that she is unlikely to pursue holding the town accountable for the legal expenses she incurred to protect her property rights amid the planning board chair’s unprofessional conduct toward her building application.

Garland said that he does not expect that future building applications will be affected by town officials’ behavior.

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: