FAYETTE — A number of residents attended a meeting of the Fayette selectmen on July 17 to express concerns about a recent DEP letter received by the town regarding an impoundment on the north side of David Pond.
The impoundment in question is a two foot high rock barrier which has served to maintain water levels on David Pond by impeding the flow from David Pond to Parker Pond. Recent damage to the impoundment has caused the water levels to drop and may cause the lake to drop considerably more. David Pond is not a deep pond and a USGS map of the pond from late 1940s to early 1950s shows the deepest water depth listed is 37 feet.
The concerned citizens, both residents and non-residents who own property on the affected ponds, filled the meeting hall at Starling Hall, requiring extra chairs be set out to accommodate those attending. They cited serious concerns about the impact on wildlife, recreation, ecology, declining property values and the resulting losses to the town tax base.
A few things were made clear at the meeting: Town officials are sympathetic, but have no jurisdiction in this matter.
The Fayette code enforcement officer, Brenda Medcoff, has contacted Dustin Dorr from D.E.P. and expressed the concerns heard at the meeting and requested a public hearing so testimony and history of the lake’s level could be heard as well as the concerns that go along with the different levels of the lake. She also noted that Fayette Town Manager Mark Robinson has also taken a copy of the audio recording of the meeting to Dorr’s office.
“We are now awaiting word back from him if this is a possibility, and I asked him not to demand action of the abutting landowners until more information is gathered,” said Medcoff.
Dustin Dorr, Environmental Specialist III of the Bureau of Land Resources stated in a letter to Fayette Town Manager Mark Robinson that there are two options to achieve compliance with the Natural Resources Protection act.
“The first option is to remove the structure and let the area revert to it’s natural condition.”
Nearly all the property owners at the meeting objected, as it would lower the pond level to the point that many people would no longer own shore front property. From the comments at the meeting, there would be a loss of property value, if their shoreland became mud and weeds.
This is a pond that is valued by the people who own lots and camps as a great resource to see wildlife, including loons, a pair (or more) of eagles, ospreys, and otters. Several property owners felt that it would endanger the well being of the wildlife that rely on the pond, if it becomes even more shallow and susceptible to milfoil, algae blooms and other hazards of rapidly warming water in the pond.
The second option would be for the organization to apply for construction of a new, engineered dam in that area. This would be a very costly option, and would require engineering and permits to accomplish.
Several people provided pictures of the impoundment from recent years, back to when there was a beaver dam at the location. Since the property where the dam is located is actually in Chesterville and was destroyed by someone does not own the land on either side of the dam, the selectmen thought that they were powerless to do anything except what had already been done, which is contact game wardens and DEP, as tampering with the impoundment without a permit from DEP is against the law.
The attendees were urged to write or call their state representative identifying themself as taxpayers or residents using their local address (Fayette – House District 76 -Gary L. Hilliard (R-Belgrade) – Senate District 17 -Thomas B. Saviello (R-Franklin). For those not a resident of Fayette, but who own property on David, Tilton, Parker Pond and are in a different district check out: http://legislature.maine.gov/house/hbiolist.htm.
Jon Beekman, selectboard chairperson, agreed, saying that one call or email might not get their attention, but seven or eight calls might.
Berndt Graf, vice chair and Joseph Young, selectperson, agreed that the residents should form an organization to advocate for for their common interests. The board also offered to make sure that a place for a public meeting would be available.
Elizabeth Hicks wanted to let everyone know that the group, which is informal right now and consists primarily of an email list, can share data, news, historic information, photos, maps, strategies. In anticipation a drop box has been set up for anything anyone would like to share. If you have something for the group go to: https://www.dropbox.com/request/2JiThIK1k0ebiOakDY1p and follow the prompts.