Locator map: Stone Street and Davenport Street, Augusta

October 14, 2013

Toilets bloom on Maine lawn to protest Dunkin’ Donuts zoning denial

An Augusta plumber hoped to sell his property to the donut franchise, and now that he can’t he’s making a statement by installing flower potties.

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

David Labbe is looking for 60 to 70 toilets, in addition to the five already there, to install on his lawn in Augusta to protest the city’s decision to deny a zoning change that would have permitted Dunkin’ Donuts to build a store on the property.

Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Labbe said he was born and raised in Augusta, but he wants to leave. He’s not optimistic, though, and his home isn’t on the market.

“We’ll never be able to sell this place,” he said.

Labbe is bitter toward city officials as well. He blames city leaders who live nearby – including Stokes and City Manager William Bridgeo, who also lives on Fairview Avenue – for rejecting the deal out of what he calls misguided concerns about traffic.

“If you don’t want anything done in the city, have the mayor and city manager live on your street,” Labbe said.

But Stokes said he doesn’t know of one person in the neighborhood aside from Labbe who supported the restaurant.

“Speakers? Delivery trucks at night?” said Patrick Hafey, of 2 Davenport St., across from Labbe. “As much as I like coffee and Boston cream doughnuts, I don’t want them across the street from me.”

Labbe acknowledged that he’s alienated in the neighborhood, but he said if “they don’t care about me, I don’t care about them.”

The city may start caring.

By ordinance, it controls licenses for junkyards and Stokes said Labbe’s property could be considered one – maybe not now, but if the toilets get out of hand.

For now, many are treating the toilets lightly. Scott Neumeyer, of 1 Mitchell St., said he’s heard similar quotes about those like Labbe from neighbors he has talked with: “There’s one in every neighborhood.”

“To respond to this by collecting toilets to add to your lawn, it’s hard to take seriously,” Neumeyer said. “It’s more kind of a laughable annoyance now than a problem.”

Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 370-7652 or at mshepherd@centralmaine.com.

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