A petition signed by 350 property owners along the shores of Clary Lake urges the state Department of Environmental Protection to take action in its efforts to get the owner of the Clary Lake dam to fix the structure and maintain a minimum water level in the lake.

“We are now in the sixth season during which the lake’s water quality and the health of the ecosystem continue to decline, a matter that has been documented by the Department’s own scientists,” the petition says, “even as we, our neighbors and the citizens of Maine are unable to fully use and enjoy Clary’s natural resources, the State board launch, or benefit from water for fire protection purposes.”

David Madore, communications director for the Department of Environmental Protection, confirmed the department had received the petition and that it was under review.

This is the latest step in a long, contentious and complicated dispute over the dam, its operation and who has jurisdiction over it.

“In a good faith effort by DEP to bring relief to the residents around Clary Lake,” Madore wrote in an email, “meetings with the dam owner and their legal representatives were held to try and negotiate a settlement to avoid a lengthy court process. Unfortunately, extensive negotiations broke down and a settlement could not be reached. A Notice of Violation (NOV) was issued to the dam owner and those in control and is still in effect.”

But the dam has not been repaired and the lake level is so low that the dam, just off Route 218 in Whitefield, is dry.

The department’s 2014 water level order, issued after another petition by property owners requesting relief, outlined the actions that dam owner Pleasant Pond Mill LLC was to take to repair and operate the damaged dam. Pleasant Pond Mill and its manager Paul Kelley and AquaFortis Associates LLC and manager Richard Smith, also named, appealed that order to Lincoln County Superior Court disputing the department’s jurisdiction; and sought mediation, which failed. Pleasant Pond Mill has been dismissed as a party from the appeal, which is ongoing.

At the same time, the dam’s ownership is unclear.

Arthur Enos, who had sold the dam to Pleasant Pond Mill a decade ago, assigned the mortgage to another entity, Medius L3C, a low-profit limited liability company. Enos has declined to give any information about the transaction, and little is known about Medius LC3; Medius is a Latin word that means the middle or third finger.

In January 2016, Medius published a notice of foreclosure and public sale of the dam. A single bid was received, but it was unclear whether that bid was accepted. Earlier this year, Pleasant Pond Mill LLC filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, listing its debts as $350,000 in legal fees, credit cards and back taxes and $115,000 to Medius L3C.

Under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code, the sale of assets are used to pay off creditors. In its filing, Pleasant Pond Mill listed its assets as .13 acres of land and a stacked granite and laid fieldstone structure. Kelley said at the time that whether the structure is a dam is an open question; he’s not sure if the state could impound water.

In addition, Robert Rubin and Cheryl Ayer filed suit against Paul Kelley, Richard Smith, AquaFortis Associates LLC and Pleasant Pond Mill LLC in Lincoln County Superior Court seeking damages for the harm they say has been done to their lakefront property by the lowered level of Clary Lake. AquaFortis Associates owns property in the vicinity of the dam. That suit is ongoing.

Kelley didn’t immediately return a call for comment Friday.

George Fergusson, secretary of the Clary Lake Association, who delivered the petition to the DEP, said he’s cautiously optimistic the department will take some action.

“They are as frustrated as we are,” Fergusson said. “We’ll have to wait and see if they do anything about it.”

Jessica Lowell can be contacted at 621-5632 or at:

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